TOKYO Ė Japanís crown prince Naruhito will visit Denmark in mid-June, once again without his wife, amid debate over the Japanese emperorís abdication, the government said on Tuesday.
The Japanese Imperial Household Agency said Naruhitoís visit will commemorate 150 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries and that Princess Masako will not accompany her husband to reduce her workload.
Masako, popularly known as ďthe sad princess,Ē has attended few official events since 2003 due to stress-induced depression, which many have attributed to the rigid protocol of the imperial family and the immense pressure of being expected to produce a male child to carry on the line of succession.
Japanís Princess Aiko, 15, is the only child of Naruhito and Masako.
Over the past 14 years, the princess has only accompanied Naruhito on two official trips abroad. In July 2015, they both traveled to the Kingdom of Tonga to attend the coronation of King Tupou VI, and in April 2013 they went to Amsterdam to witness the crowning of the king and queen of the Netherlands.
The visit to Denmark in June will be 57-year-old Naruhitoís first official foreign trip since his father, Emperor Akihito, 83, expressed his desire to abdicate in favor of his son, citing old age and fragile health, in August 2016.
The Japanese government approved a bill on May 19 that will allow Akihito to hand over the Chrysanthemum throne to his heir, in what will be the first abdication of a Japanese emperor in 200 years and which is expected to take place in December 2018, when the emperor turns 85 and completes three decades as head of state.
During his stay in Denmark from June 15-21, Naruhito is expected to deliver an inaugural speech at the opening ceremony of an exhibition on Japan, attend a luncheon with Queen Margrethe II and a dinner with Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. He also plans to visit a school for people with disabilities and a windmill manufacturing plant.
The crown prince last visited Denmark in May 2004 for the wedding ceremony of the crown prince and the crown princess.