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Japan's Princess Kiko Gives Birth to Boy, Defusing Succession Crisis


Japan's Princess Kiko has given birth to a boy, the first male heir born into the imperial family in more than 40 years.

Princess Kiko gave birth in a private Tokyo hospital this Wednesday morning by Caesarian section. Her chief physician Masao Nakabayashi says both the mother and baby are doing well.

Fans of the royal family gathered outside the hospital to wave flags and shout congratulations as members of the family left the building. Newspapers published special editions to announce the event and television networks broadcast special programming.

The infant is now third in line to the Japanese throne after Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Kiko's husband, Prince Akishino. Akishino was the last male born to the royal family in 1965.

Last year, a government panel recommended revising imperial laws to allow a female to ascend the throne. But, the proposal was shelved when the princess announced her pregnancy.

The gender of the baby was not announced until today, causing months of speculation in Japan. Traditionalists had hoped the baby would be a boy, but many Japanese say they would have liked to see a girl so that the laws on ascension could change.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, a favorite to become prime minister this month, welcomed the birth. He says the debate over reforming imperial laws should be conducted in a calm and careful way.

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