Royalty and statesmen




Princess Kiko's joy was evident when the imperial household announced she was expecting a child this autumn. Doctors now plan to deliver the baby a few weeks earlier than the expected September due date after discovering complications with the pregnancy
Photo: © AFP
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19 JULY 2006

Japan's eagerly awaited imperial baby is to be delivered next month by caesarean section earlier than the expected due date in September, after doctors found complications with Princess Kiko's pregnancy.

The wife of Prince Akishino, the second-in-line to the throne after his brother Naruhito, has symptoms of partial placenta previa. The condition, in which the placenta drops too low in the uterus, can pose risks for both mother and child.

Although the 39-year-old royal has opted not to know the sex of her baby, traditionalists in the country are hoping she will bear a son. No boy has been born to the imperial family since 1965, leading to a succession crisis as current Japanese legislation only allows for males to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Moves to change the law so that Aiko, the four-year-old daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako, could one day rule have been put on hold until the arrival of Kiko's child.

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