|Japanese first lady Akie Abe, second left,
receives a scroll with Chinese characters meaning peace and
friendship, from student Zhang Shuo, right, during her visit to a
junior high school in Beijing on Sunday October 8, 2006.
Japanese prime minister's wife has revealed she went through
fertility treatment and
considered adoption but said she and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have
accepted they will have no children.
Akie Abe's remarks to a magazine were remarkably frank for a prime
minister's wife, reflecting her effort to show a more human side of her
husband, Japan's youngest post-World War II premier.
Shinzo Abe, 52, has pledged to encourage Japanese to have more children
to reverse a declining birthrate, triggering media speculation as to why
he is childless himself.
In an interview with the monthly magazine Bungei Shunju, Akie Abe, 44,
confessed she felt strong pressure to bear children because her husband is
a third-generation politician.
"Coming from a household of politicians, there was of course a lot of
pressure, including from local constituents. But now it has become
difficult, in part because of my age, so people no longer tell me to keep
at it," she said.
"At the early stage, I did go through fertility treatment. But I think
that I should accept my fate that I am the wife of a politician who became
prime minister, and that we did not have the gift of having children."
She said she considered adopting a child a rare occurrence in Japan
other than within extended families and noted that adoption was "very
common in the United States."
"But I wasn't able to go through with it mentally and I didn't have the
confidence to raise a child, so it didn't become a reality.
Akie Abe voiced sympathy for Crown Princess Masako, who has a
4-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko, but has been under intense pressure to
bear a male heir to the
"I think the crown princess
had an unimaginably hard time due to the strong pressure, which is
incomparable to us. But I guess Princess Kiko was a relief to her," she
Princess Kiko, the wife of the emperor's second son, Prince Akishino,
delivered a boy last month, Prince Hisahito, giving the royal family an
heir and ending for now a debate on allowing female succession a proposal
opposed by Shinzo Abe.