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Home » Archives » September 2006 » Japan Has New Prince

Japan Has New Prince

Wednesday, September 6, 2006 Posted: 10:07 AM JST

Princess Kiko gave birth to a boy by Caesarean section at 8:27 this morning. The 39-year-old princess is the wife of Prince Akishino, the emperor's second-eldest son. This is the first boy in the imperial family in 41 years. Prince Akishino himself was the last male to the imperial family. Japanese law doesn't allow women to inherit the Chrysanthemum throne, so the birth of this prince is considered to be of extreme importance in Japan. He is the third in line to the throne after Prince Naruhito and Akishino. The birth of the new prince however does not solve the succession crisis. It just puts it off to a later date.

Crown-prince Naruhito and his wife Masako have a daughter, 4-year-old Aiko. Princess Masako is said to suffer from extreme stress because of pressure to produce a son, as well as difficulties to adjust to the strict and isolated life of the Imperial palace. Her fate has created much sympathy among the Japanese.

A government appointed panel last year recommended changing Japan's 1947 imperial law to allow a woman to take the throne. This proposal was extremely popular with the public, but less so with some conservative traditionalists.

Prime Minister Koizumi started preparations earlier this year to change the law. The debate soon turned hostile when the traditionalists insisted that a female emperor would 'destroy' Japan.

Koizumi immediately discontinued his efforts to change the law when it was announced that Princess Kiko was pregnant, raising suspicions that it was known that a boy would be born.

The boy weighed in at 2558 grams and stands 48.8 cm tall. No name has yet been announced for the new prince. According to tradition this will take place in exactly seven days.

NOTE: This news was posted at 9:07 AM, but our server is not set to make up the difference in Summer Savings Time so the above headline states 10:07:17 AM.

Keywords: national_news

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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