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It's a Boy for Japan's Imperial Family; Succession Crisis Over

Japan's Princess Kiko has given birth to the imperial family's first baby boy in 40 years - averting a succession crisis for its Chrysanthemum Throne.

For the first time in four decades, a male child has been born into Japan's imperial family.

After a complicated pregnancy, 39-year-old Princess Kiko delivered by caesarean section her third child - and first boy - Wednesday morning at the private Aiiku hospital in Tokyo.

The princess' doctor, Masao Nakabayashi, says mother and son are doing well.

The doctor says right after the delivery, the princess said she felt fine and expressed gratitude.

The boy, weighing two-and-a-half kilograms, will become third in line to the throne after Crown Prince Naruhito and Kiko's husband, Prince Akishino.

Wednesday's royal birth may now suspend the debate on whether to revise the succession law and allow a female monarch.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe - who is expected to become Japan's next prime minister later this month - was asked by reporters about the future of succession changes just hours after the birth of the new prince.

Abe says in light of the prince's birth, the government should carefully debate any change to the imperial succession law and take into consideration public opinion.

The last woman to reign in Japan was Gosakuramachi in the late 18th century. As was the case with the seven other women who occupied the throne, she was compelled to abdicate when a suitable male heir was ready to rule.

The Chrysanthemum Throne, the world's oldest in terms of hereditary succession, stretches back 125 generations. The royal family has no political power but remains a revered symbol of the state.

The prince's birth sets off a series of imperial rituals, including a naming ceremony, which will take place in seven days.