Japan’s Princess Aiko, 4, starts kindergarten

TOKYO (Reuters) – Clutching her mother’s hand and smiling
briefly at TV cameras, Japan’s 4-year-old Princess Aiko — the
only child of the direct heir to the throne — started her
first day of kindergarten on Tuesday.

Aiko, wearing a uniform with a pleated blue skirt, matching
jacket and hat with a downturned brim, arrived at the elite
Gakushuin Kindergarten in Tokyo with her parents, Crown Prince
Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako.

Shortly before going into the school to join about 50
children for an entrance ceremony, Aiko dropped her father’s
hand and latched on to her mother.

Masako, who has been suffering from a stress-related
illness for more than two years due partly to pressure to
produce a male heir to the ancient monarchy, also smiled and

Plans to revise Japan’s male-only imperial succession law
to clear the way for Aiko to inherit the throne were shelved
after news in February that the wife of the emperor’s younger
son was pregnant with a third child, raising hopes of a male

No royal boys have been born since 1965, and advisers to
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had proposed last year that
the law be changed to let women and their children inherit the

But Koizumi decided not to submit the legislation, which
conservative lawmakers staunchly oppose, to parliament after
news of the royal pregnancy.

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