August 7, 2006

Japan princess to have baby around September 6 -NHK

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Princess Kiko, pregnant with a
possible heir to the throne, will likely have her baby by a
Caesarean operation around September 6, public broadcaster NHK
said on Tuesday.

The Imperial Household Agency had said earlier that Kiko,
39, the wife of Emperor Akihito's younger son Prince Akishino,
was likely to undergo a Caesarean ahead of her due date in late
September because of a complication in her pregnancy.

No male has been born into Japan's imperial family since
1965, and the possibility that Kiko might have a son has halted
plans to revise a 1947 imperial succession law to give women
equal rights to inherit the throne. Crown Prince Naruhito, the
emperor's elder son, has one daughter, 4-year-old Aiko.

His wife, Princess Masako, 42, has been largely absent from
public duties in recent years, suffering from a mental disorder
many commentators attribute partly to the pressure to produce
an heir.

Masako, a Harvard-educated former diplomat, is set to take
a rare overseas holiday in the Netherlands with her family
later this month, but is expected to return on August 31.

A spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency said he had
no information on the date of the Caesarean.

Japanese tabloid magazines have speculated that the baby is
already known to be a boy, but the agency says there will be no
early announcements, not least because the parents do not want
to know the child's sex ahead of time.

Akishino and Kiko have two older children, both girls.