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Cablegate: It's a Boy! First Grandson for Japan's Emperor

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FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
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INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 4052
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0183
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RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 1280
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 9040
RHMFIUU/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/TREASURY DEPT WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI PRIORITY 6117

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 005081

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV JA
SUBJECT: IT'S A BOY! FIRST GRANDSON FOR JAPAN'S EMPEROR

REF: TOKYO 00821

1. Summary. Japan's long wait for a male successor to the
Chrysanthemum throne came to an end early on the morning of
September 6, as Princess Kiko gave birth to the Imperial
family's first male heir in 41 years. His birth is likely to
bring an end to any remaining debate on revising Japan's
Imperial Household Law to allow females and matrilineal
descendants to ascend the throne. Public reaction has been
overwhelmingly positive, notwithstanding some sniping about
the costs of supporting the royal family in the media. End
summary.

2. Japan's Princess Kiko, wife of the Emperor's second son,
gave birth to a boy on September 6, the first male heir to
the Imperial throne born to the Emperor's immediate family
since 1966. The baby boy, weighing in at approximately 5.7
pounds, was delivered by cesarean section at Tokyo's Aiiku
Hospital at 08:27. Princess Kiko's husband is Prince
Akishino, 40, the second son of Emperor Akihito, 72. The
Emperor's eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 46, has only one
child, four-year-old Princess Aiko. The new baby will stand
third in line after his uncle and father, according to
Japan's Imperial Household Law, while Prince Hitachi, the
Emperor's brother, moves down to fourth. The 1947 Law bars
females, as well as males of matrilineal descent, from
assuming the throne.

3. Some press reports this morning note that today's birth
only postpones the looming succession crisis for Japan's
23-member Imperial family. Prior to today, only nine
children had been born into the family in the past 40 years,
and all were female. With no male members of the Imperial
family under the age of forty, and collateral noble families
descended from earlier emperors excluded from the line of
succession, there was a possibility that there would be no
eligible successor to the throne after the deaths of Crown
Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino.

4. The Imperial Household Agency announced shortly after the
birth that the newborn would receive approximately USD 25,000
per year, the same as his two older sisters, ages 14 and 11.
Prince Akishino receives ten times that amount, as stipulated
by the Imperial Household Law, for purposes of "maintaining
the royal dignity." News reports this morning carried
detailed data on the Imperial family's expenses and how they
will be affected by the new birth.

5. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Tsutomu
Takebe sent congratulations to the Imperial family on behalf
of the ruling party, as did Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo
Abe, likely next prime minister. Opposition Democratic Party
of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama hailed the
birth as well, and called for a moratorium on further
discussions of amending the succession provisions of the
Imperial Household Law for the time being.

6. Prime Minister Koizumi announced on January 20 that he
would submit a bill to the Diet to revise the Imperial
Succession Law to allow females and their descendants to
ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne. Calling for "cautious
discussion," he expressed his desire to gain unanimous
approval for the bill in order to prevent the succession
issue from turning into a political fight. However, even
many of his own LDP members did not support the bill. Calls
by Foreign Minister Aso and Finance Minister Tanigaki for
more debate did not bode well for speedy passage.

7. In the end, Prime Minister Koizumi's decision to seek
unanimous Diet approval made it more impossible to submit the
bill after it the unexpected February 8 announcement that
Princess Kiko was pregnant. Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe
publicly confirmed that the bill would be shelved on February
10, after which debate seemed to die down almost completely,
as most Japanese eagerly awaited the birth.

8. According to poll results published in the February 12
Mainichi Shimbun, 78 percent of respondents were ready to

TOKYO 00005081 002 OF 002


accept a female monarch, with 52 percent in favor of revising
the Law even if a male heir were born. The Imperial family
did not disclose in advance whether the child was a male or
female this time, perhaps in hopes of avoiding the sort of
national hysteria that surrounded the birth of Princess Aiko
in 2001.
SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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