Princess Kiko gives birth to imperial baby boy

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Family tree of the Japanese Imperial Family shortly after the birth of the newborn Prince of Akishino.

Princess Kiko has given birth to a 2,558 gram (5.639 lb) baby boy, on 6 September at 8 h 27 (Japan Standard Time). He is the first male baby born in the Japanese imperial family since his father in 1965. The baby was delivered with a Caesarean section, and will not be named until a ceremony seven days after his birth.

Emperor Akihito, currently on a tour of Hokkaido, welcomed the birth. A number of traditional rites will take place, including the baby boy being symbolically presented with a sabre.

The boy will be the third in line to succeed to the Japanese throne after the Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino, father of the child.

The fact that Crown Princess Masako wasn't able to have a boy to succeed the throne is thought to have provoked her depression and subsequent withdrawal from public activity.

Pressure from the Imperial Household Agency for another child was ineffective and therefore Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appointed a panel to find an alternative succession system. The panel's recommendation to allow women to inherit the throne was met with fierce criticism from conservatives.

The birth of the baby boy eases the pressure for the reform which about 70% of Japanese favoured but which was postponed sine die when the news of the pregnancy came to the public.

Prince Akishino has previously criticized his elder brother for not trying to sire a boy. According to Crown Prince Naruhito this was in order to protect Crown Princess Masako. At the same time, Princess Kiko has become the darling of the media while the Crown Princess has been accused of being "selfish" by some newspapers.