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Japan's Princess Aiko Visits Tokyo Disney Resort



March 13, 2006

Japanese princess meets Mickey Mouse under tight security

URAYASU, Japan (AFP) - Four-year-old Japanese Princess Aiko tours a Disney theme park as the crown prince seeks to give his only child some trappings of a normal life -- even with ultra-strict security.

With 1,000 plain-clothes police officers watching, Aiko, who would be Japan's first female monarch in centuries under a plan tentatively dropped by the government, held her parents' hands and was greeted by Disney characters.

T The little princess, wearing a pale blue coat, turned her face shyly to her mother, Crown Princess Masako, as Mickey Mouse leaned over to welcome Aiko with a hearty laugh.

As regular visitors to Tokyo Disneyland snapped photos, Crown Prince Naruhito, sporting a casual red jacket, and his family headed on a tour of the theme park by miniature train.

"The family wanted Princess Aiko to have the same experiences as other children of her age before she goes to kindergarten," an Imperial Household Agency spokesman said.

About 1,000 police officers guarded her previously unannounced first excursion to the park, although most dressed casually so as not to ruin the outing for Aiko and other visitors, a police official said.

"They dressed and acted as if they had been ordinary visitors," he said.

About 55,000 people were at Tokyo DisneySea park as the family arrived to the entourage of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Aladdin and Jasmine. The three went later to the main area of Tokyo Disneyland.

It marked a rare joint appearance for the family. Masako, who was smiling in front of the cameras Monday, has attended few public events for more than two years as she suffers from intense stress.

Doctors have recommended Masako, a US-educated former career woman, limit formal duties and get out more. The family last week also travelled quietly to Tokyo's Ueno Zoo.

"For now, it's important for her to have pleasant memories with her family without paying attention to the noise around her," the Shukan Shincho magazine quoted a source close to the palace as saying.

The weekly last week broke news of the upcoming trip under the headline, "Princess Aiko's 'secret Disneyland operation.'"

A government panel late last year proposed introducing female succession to allow Aiko to ascend the throne, a move that would ease pressure on Masako to bear a boy.

But Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's government dropped the proposal after the palace announced that Princess Kiko, the wife of the emperor's second son, was pregnant, raising the possibility of a male heir.

Female succession enjoys wide public support, but traditionalists have led a high-profile campaign against the idea, with thousands rallying in Tokyo last week against allowing a woman on the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 as Disney's first theme park outside the United States and visits there have almost become a rite-of-passage for Japanese children.

Late wartime emperor Hirohito visited Disneyland in California in 1975 on a visit to the United States to show reconciliation after World War II.


princess aiko tdr visit
©AFP

Japanese Princess Aiko (2nd R), and her parents Crown Prince Naruhito (R) and Crown Princess Masako (3rd R), meet Mickey Mouse upon arrival at Tokyo's DisneySea. The crown prince took the four-year-old princess to the Disney theme park to give her some trappings of a normal life -- even with ultra-strict security.(AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi)


princess aiko tdr visit
©AP Photo

Japanese Princess Aiko clings to her mother Crown Princess Masako as she is scared of Alladin's sweetheart Princess Jasmine while receiving a greeting from Disney characters upon arriving at Tokyo DisneySea in Urayasu, east of Tokyo, Monday, March 13, 2006. Crown Prince Naruhito, right, his wife, Masako, and their four-year-old daughter Aiko spent a day touring the amusement park and the neighboring Tokyo Disneyland. (AP Photo/Katsumi kasahara)


princess aiko tdr visit
©Reuters

Japan's Crown Princess Masako (L) soothes her daughter Princess Aiko as they are welcomed by Disney characters at Disneyland in Tokyo March 13, 2006. Four-year-old Princess Aiko has been getting a weekly dose of life outside the palace and what children her age go through as she prepares to start nursery school in April. (REUTERS/Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool)


princess aiko tdr visit
©Reuters

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito (R), Crown Princess Masako (3rd R) and their daughter Princess Aiko (2nd R) are welcomed by Disney characters at Disneyland in Tokyo March 13, 2006. Four-year-old Princess Aiko has been getting a weekly dose of life outside the palace and what children her age go through as she prepares to start nursery school in April. (REUTERS/Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool)


princess aiko tdr visit
©AP Photo

Japan's Princess Masako and her daughter Princess Aiko wave as they are greeted by Disney characters on arrival at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, east of Tokyo, Monday, March 13, 2006. The family spent a day touring the amusement park. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

-- Source: AFP (Story); AFP, AP Photo, REUTERS (Images)

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