The Crown Princess underwent an ultrasound test Monday afternoon at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo to determine whether she is pregnant. The agency was to publicly announce the results later in the day, after reporting the outcome to the Emperor and Empress. If it is confirmed that she is pregnant, Princess Masako, 36, is expected to give birth to the baby — her first since the June 1993 marriage to the Crown Prince — around August. If she were to have a boy, he would be second in line to the throne after his 39-year-old father under the male-only rules of succession in the imperial household statute. Currently, Prince Akishino, the Emperor’s second son, is second in line to the throne. The agency will also quickly assemble a team of medical experts, comprising mainly of doctors from the Tokyo University Hospital, to prepare for the birth. According to agency sources, the princess showed symptoms of pregnancy before she left for Belgium on Dec. 3 to attend the wedding of Belgian Crown Prince Philippe. She tested positive in basic pregnancy tests after returning to Japan on Dec. 7 and also appears to have symptoms of morning sickness, the sources said. After returning from Belgium, the princess canceled a meeting with the Emperor and Empress because of a slight fever. The princess turned 36 on Thursday. Many celebrations and other engagements related to her birthday were also either canceled or postponed. If the Crown Prince were to have a boy, he would be the Imperial Couple’s first grandson. It would also be the first birth in the imperial family since Princess Kiko, wife of Prince Akishino, gave birth to her second daughter in 1994. In the 6 1/2 years since the wedding of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, there has been intense interest over the birth of their first child, as well as debate about imperial succession. After some commentators suggested that Princess Masako’s tight schedule may have been to blame for the fact she had no children, the agency cut back her commitments.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.