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The Crown Princess, 37, is showing signs that she might be pregnant, the Imperial Household Agency announced Monday.

The agency, at a hastily called news conference around noon, said the Crown Princess is in good condition and added it will take time for an official pregnancy announcement, which will be preceded by a detailed medical examination, including ultrasound.

Agency sources said later in the day that the Crown Princess appears to be in her sixth or seventh week of pregnancy, and if all goes well, the couple’s first child will be born in the first half of December.

The eyes of Japan will be on the Crown Princess, who married the Crown Prince, 41, in June 1993, because the couple’s first son will be second in line to the Imperial throne after his father.

On hearing the news, the Emperor and Empress said it is a joyous event, and they hope the Crown Princess will take good care of herself.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, in an informal meeting with reporters at his official residence, also congratulated the couple. “It is a happy event,” he said. “It is really a happy event.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told reporters at the Diet building, “It is happy news, but we would like to calmly wait for progress.”

Meanwhile, the Crown Princess’ father, former Japanese ambassador to the United Nations Hisashi Owada, told a hastily called news conference in Hiroshima Prefecture that although he had yet to receive formal word, he will be very pleased should the news be true.

The top government spokesman said the Cabinet will not issue an official comment at this time as an official confirmation of the pregnancy is yet to be announced.

The news came after the agency invited Osamu Tsutsumi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Tokyo Medical School, to take a special position on a medical team for the Crown Prince and Crown Princess in March.

The Crown Princess recently canceled a three-day visit to Kyoto planned to start April 4, and last Tuesday was absent from a luncheon held for the visiting Lithuanian president. She was reportedly suffering from a cold.

The agency said that in consideration of the princess’s physical condition, she will not attend a spring party at the Akasaka Gyoen Imperial garden today, nor a welcome luncheon Wednesday for Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle, who arrived in Japan on Sunday.

The Crown Prince and Princess were to visit Okinawa Prefecture this Saturday until Monday, but now only the prince will go, it said.

The princess suffered a miscarriage in December 1999, causing her to withdraw from official engagements for several weeks until the day of the Crown Prince’s 40th birthday on Feb. 23, 2000.

Sources close to the agency said that officials have tried to make a better environment for the Crown Princess to maintain a good physical condition by letting her rest more and reducing her attendance at public events.

They tried not to make her schedule too tight, particularly after she had the miscarriage, according to the sources.

Aides to the Emperor and Empress once made sarcastic remarks that the Crown Princess had more time to rest than the Imperial Couple, who are in their 60s, the sources said.

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