Princess Kiko, 34 weeks pregnant with a possible future heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne, entered Aiiku Hospital in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday, as she waits for the birth of her third child, expected early next month.
The 39-year-old princess, wife of Prince Akishino, Emperor Akihito’s second son, has been diagnosed with partial placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta forms low in the uterus and partially covers the cervix.
Her hospitalization is aimed at ensuring a safe delivery, which will be performed by Caesarean section, the Imperial Household Agency said.
Partial placenta previa can cause complications for the baby and mother, and often requires a Caesarean delivery if it is not resolved beforehand.
The surgery will be the first Caesarean for a member of the Imperial family.
The princess is in stable condition, with no sign of bleeding, and the fetus is developing normally, the agency said.
The princess’ chief physician, Masao Nakabayashi, heads the private hospital, and other key members of her obstetric team, including Tomoko Adachi, are also on the staff. The hospital is noted for its facilities to handle emergency deliveries.
Nakabayashi’s team will determine the date of delivery depending on the condition of the baby and the princess. The birth is expected to take place around Sept. 6.
The sex of the child has not been disclosed. The agency has said Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko do not want to know the baby’s sex ahead of time. If the baby is a boy, the child will be the first male born into the Imperial family since Prince Akishino’s birth in November 1965.
Under the Imperial House Law, a male child born to Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko would be third in line to the throne after Crown Prince Naruhito, 46, and Prince Akishino, 40. The Crown Prince and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, 42, have one child, Princess Aiko, 4.
If the baby is a girl, she will be Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko’s third daughter, following Princess Mako, 14, and Princess Kako, 11.
Earlier in her pregnancy, morning sickness occasionally kept the princess at home, but later she was able to return to her official duties, including trips outside Tokyo.
Since she was diagnosed with partial placenta previa on July 12, Princess Kiko has mostly remained at home.
The expected birth has had a major impact on the debate over a revision of the Imperial House Law, which allows only males with an emperor on their father’s side to ascend to the throne.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet planned to submit a bill to revise the law to the Diet to allow a reigning empress, with an eye to Princess Aiko and her descendants.
But the revision was put on hold after Princess Kiko’s pregnancy was revealed in February, in light of the possibility of a male birth.
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.