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.
"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 throne.
"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 said.
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.