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Name chosen for Japan's royal baby

By staff and wire reports

TOKYO, Japan -- Japan's royal baby has been given a name.

The Imperial Household said Friday the child has been called Princess Aiko, which means "a person who loves others."

The baby, the first for Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, was born last Saturday.

Emperor Akihito lead the naming ceremony, which traditionally happens on the seventh day of the baby's birth.

Also following tradition, the baby will have a different name while young. The princess will be called Toshinomiya, or Princess Toshi, in her youth.

That means "one who respects others."

Mother and daughter due to head home

Officially, the emperor chose the name Aiko from a list compiled by academics. But Kyodo news agency reports that the parents in fact picked it from a Chinese text.

This is the first child for Princess Masako and Crown Prince Naruhito, who married in June 1993  

Dignitaries including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi are due to offer their congratulations to the emperor, Empress Michiko and the crown prince later on Friday.

Princess Masako, who turns 38 on Sunday, is due to leave the royal hospital with Princess Aiko on Saturday.

The birth of an heir to the royal house has been a bright spot in an otherwise grim year for Japan.

Unemployment stands at a record 5.4 percent, and incomes are shrinking. Fresh figures on Friday confirmed what economists already knew - that Japan is in recession. That's it's fourth in a decade.

But thousands of well-wishers have lined up to offer their congratulations on the baby's birth. Much of Japan has caught baby fever.

Japanese officials are mulling a change in the law, to allow women to inherit the throne in Japan.

Crown Prince Naruhito is the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne, the oldest monarchy in the world.

Japan has had female monarchs in the past, most recently in the 18th Century. But it changed its succession law after World War II to restrict the throne to men.


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