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Japan got its first official look at Emperor Hirohito's aged widow in more than eight years today in a series of photos released by the imperial palace.

The 93-year-old Empress Dowager Nagako, mother of Japan's reigning emperor, Akihito, was shown resting at her palace residence in Tokyo. She appeared frail and sat in a wheelchair.Nagako rarely leaves the palace and does not attend imperial banquets or most other functions.

The only glimpses Japan had gotten of Nagako over the past eight years came from photos taken surreptitiously through the windows of her personal bus as she traveled to and from an imperial villa outside Tokyo.

That stopped, too, after the empress dowager or her attendants began closing the bus curtains. Complaints over the lack of access encouraged the palace to release the official photos.