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Japan's New Prince Named Hisahito

Japan's new prince, the first male heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne to be born in four decades, on Tuesday was named Hisahito — meaning "virtuous, calm and everlasting," the Imperial Household Agency announced.

The infant, who was born Sept. 6, is third in line to be the country's emperor. He was named during a five-minute ceremony following age-old imperial rites at the Tokyo hospital where the prince and his mother, Princess Kiko, who turned 40 the day before, are still recovering.

Hisahito's name, which uses the Chinese characters for "virtuous, calm and everlasting," was chosen by his parents with the wish that the new prince has a long, prosperous life with even-tempered peace of mind, palace spokeswoman Yuka Shiina said.

The new prince's name was written on special rice paper with brush and ink and placed along with his personal crest in a wooden box next to the baby's pillow. The crest, a stylized Japanese umbrella pine, was chosen in the hopes he will grow straight and tall, and will be used to mark Hisahito's belongings, the agency said.

In keeping with custom, Hisahito's name ends with the Chinese character "hito," meaning virtuous person. The character is also seen in the name of current emperor Akihito, and his father, Hirohito.

Akishino and Kiko had begun considering names for the baby since around July, and Hisahito was one of several candidates they narrowed down after excluding the names of previous emperors and royals and consulting with experts in Japanese and Chinese literature, palace officials said.

The new royal's birth forestalled a looming crisis for Japan's centuries-old imperial family, which was badly in need of a fresh male heir.

The boy is Emperor Akihito's first grandson and takes his place in the succession to the throne behind Akishino and Crown Prince Naruhito. Until Wednesday, brothers Akishino and Naruhito had three daughters between them, but no sons.

The government was set to introduce a bill earlier this year to change a 1947 law that limits the throne to only men.

But that was put on ice when Kiko's pregnancy was announced in February.

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