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Japan emperor, empress meet newest little prince

Written by: Staff

TOKYO, Sep 10 (Reuters) Japan's Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, today got the first glimpse of their baby grandson, the first male heir born into the imperial family in more than four decades.

The imperial couple was in Hokkaido on official business when Princess Kiko, their second son's wife, gave birth by a Caesarian operation on Wednesday, and were informed of the tiny prince's arrival by telephone. They returned to Tokyo yesterday night.

As the two emerged from the central Tokyo hospital where the prince and his mother are staying, reporters shouted: ''Congratulations on the birth of the prince!'' ''Thank you,'' the emperor replied, beaming.

The prince is the first boy born in the imperial family since the birth of his father, Prince Akishino, in 1965.

The baby will be named on Tuesday, the seventh day after his birth. He and his mother are likely to leave the hospital sometime from Wednesday on.

The new prince is third in line to the throne, after Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino. The crown prince has one daughter, 4-year-old Aiko.

The baby's arrival cheered traditionalists eager to keep a line of male descent they say dates back more than 2,000 years and for now has scuttled a plan to let women ascend the throne.


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