Birth of prince doesn’t resolve succession crisis: agency chief

The Associated Press

The head of the Imperial Household Agency has warned that last week’s birth of the first male heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne in four decades did not resolve the Imperial family’s succession crisis, an official of the agency said Wednesday.

The birth of Prince Hisahito was hailed by conservatives as averting a crisis in the Imperial system, which allows only males from the male line to reign but was in desperate need of a successor.

Until his birth, Emperor Akihito’s sons Prince Akishino and Crown Prince Naruhito had had three daughters between them but no sons.

Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Shingo Haketa said the royal family’s future is still shaky.

“Even though the prince has been born, that does not take away the problem over the stability of Imperial succession,” he was quoted as saying by Imperial Household Agency spokesman Yasuo Moriyama.

Haketa’s comments were made Tuesday, as the new prince was being named. In a traditional rite at the Tokyo hospital where he and Princess Kiko are resting, the new prince was named Hisahito, which means “virtuous, calm and long life.”

Haketa did not elaborate on how the succession crisis should be solved.

The Imperial House Law of 1947 allows only men to take the throne, meaning the new prince is third and last in line.

Leaving hospital

Princess Kiko and her newborn son, Prince Hisahito, are scheduled to leave the Tokyo hospital on Friday where they have been staying since his birth on Oct. 6, an Imperial Household Agency official said.

Both Hisahito, the first male born into the Imperial family in four decades, and his mother are doing well and are slated to check out on Friday, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The birth of the prince was hailed by traditionalists for forestalling a crisis in one of the world’s oldest monarchies.

By law, only males can reign and the Imperial line was in desperate need of a successor to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

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