The birth of a son on Wednesday morning to Prince Akishino, Emperor Akihito’s second son, and Princess Kiko has changed the order of succession in the Imperial family.

The newborn is now third in line to the throne after Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino, the baby’s father.

The lack of a young prince in the Imperial family had spurred debate over whether the Imperial House Law should be revised to allow Princess Aiko, 4, the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito, 46, and Crown Princess Masako, 42, to assume the throne. The law currently allows only males to reign.

The baby, the first possible heir to the throne in 41 years, is the eighth male in the 23-member Imperial household.

Crown Prince Naruhito, Emperor Akihito’s eldest son, is first in line to succeed his father, Emperor Akihito, 72. Second in line is the Emperor’s second son, Prince Akishino, 40.

Before the birth of the baby boy, Prince Hitachi, 70, the Emperor’s younger brother, was third in line, followed by Prince Mikasa, 90, an uncle of the Emperor.

Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, 60, who is Prince Mikasa’s eldest son, was fifth, followed by Prince Katsura, 58, who is Prince Mikasa’s second son.

Before Princess Kiko’s pregnancy was announced in February, the government had been considering a bill to revise the Imperial House Law to allow females and their descendants to reign, at the recommendation of a government panel.

The report submitted to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in November proposed that the Emperor’s first-born child should be first in line to the throne regardless of sex.

If the 1947 law is revised according to the panel’s recommendations, Princess Aiko would succeed her father as reigning Empress.

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