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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe backed off Wednesday from their earlier pledge to quickly get a bill passed that would allow a female on the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Their about-face came a day after the Imperial Household Agency announced that Princess Kiko, the wife of Emperor Akihito’s second son, is pregnant. She is expected to have the baby in September or October.

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