[ 2006-09-05 14:00 ]
Kiko, 39, the wife
of the emperor's younger son, Akishino, is to undergo a Caesarean section after pregnancy
photo, taken last month, shows Japanese Prince Akishino (L) and his
wife Princess Kiko entering the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to meet
with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. Japan is holding its
breath for this week's royal birth, hoping Princess Kiko will bear
the family's first male heir in four decades and ease a succession
crisis in the widely revered monarchy.
If the child is a boy, the birth will avert a succession crisis caused
by the fact that no male has been born into Japan's royal family since
Crown Prince Naruhito, the emperor's elder son, has one daughter,
4-year-old Aiko, who cannot ascend the
throne under existing law.
The birth of another girl would leave the country in a quandary over
the future of the monarchy.
Public opinion polls earlier in the year showed that the majority of
the electorate would back a
But plans to revise the 1947 imperial succession law to give women
equal rights to inherit the throne were opposed by conservatives including
Shinzo Abe, the front-runner to become prime minister in a ruling party
leadership election later this month.
The proposals were shelved
when Kiko's pregnancy was announced.
Kiko, who already has two daughters aged 14 and 11, went into a central
Tokyo hospital two weeks ago to rest and prepare for the birth.
Japan's tabloids have said her third child is already known to be a
boy, but there has been no official announcement of the baby's sex.
Naruhito and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, a U.S.-educated former
diplomat, returned along with Aiko from a rare private overseas trip to
the Netherlands on
Caesarean section: 剖腹产