Japanese princess bullied at elementary school

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Associated Press

Posted on March 5, 2010 at 6:04 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Princess Aiko, granddaughter of the emperor, has missed several days of classes because of bullying by boys at her elementary school, a spokesman for the royal family said Friday.

The news provided a rare glimpse into the private affairs of the world's oldest hereditary monarchy, which usually abides by strict, formal protocols and is tightlipped about personal matters.

The 8-year-old princess complained of a stomachache and expressed deep anxiety, and has not attended school since coming home early Tuesday, the spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency said. He declined to provide his name, citing agency policy.

An investigation by the agency and the school revealed that she and several other students had suffered "violent things" from boys in another class, the spokesman said, declining to elaborate.

Aiko is the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito, son of the emperor, and Princess Masako. She attends the elite Gakushuin Primary School in Tokyo's central Shinjuku district. The spokesman declined to comment on the reaction of her parents or when she would return to school.

Naruhito is to visit Africa starting Saturday but won't be accompanied by Masako, who hasn't attended official duties for several years. She has long suffered from a nervous disorder attributed to the difficulties of adjusting to palace life and the pressure to bear a son.

After suffering a miscarriage in 1999, Masako gave birth to Aiko in 2001. The lack of a male heir fanned a movement to change the law to allow Aiko to succeed her father.

But the succession crisis was averted when Naruhito's younger brother, Prince Akishino, and his wife Princess Kiko had a baby boy in 2006. The boy, Hisahito, is now third in line to the throne.

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