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Japan’s New Princess Gets a Traditional Name

TIMES STAFF WRITER

She will be known as Princess Aiko.

The newest baby in Japan’s imperial family was anointed today, the seventh day of her life, with the very traditional Japanese name, which essentially means “child of love.”

The name was said to have been selected by her parents, Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako, from several candidates recommended by three scholars. But the final choice needed to be approved by the emperor, as is royal tradition.

Emperor Akihito sent the name written on two pieces of beautiful Japanese washi paper, one with “Aiko” and the second with her other court name, Toshinomiya (Toshi for “respected” and nomiya for “imperial member”), in a lacquered cypress box with a gold chrysanthemum emblem.

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The box was first sent today to the grounds of Naruhito’s palace, where the baby will be raised by her parents, and then was delivered to the hospital on the grounds of the main Imperial Palace, where it was placed on the baby’s pillow.

The naming ritual followed another: the bathing ceremony in a cedar tub.

Many Japanese women’s names end in “ko"--including those of the crown princess and the empress, Michiko. The baby’s two royal cousins, daughters of the crown prince’s brother, Prince Akishino, are named Mako and Kako.

Their mother’s name is Kiko, although she is now known as Princess Akishino.

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However, in the past few years, commoners seem to be steering away from that suffix, which is used only for girls. According to Meiji Life Insurance, of the top 50 names chosen last year, only two included “ko.”

The new princess was born eight years after her parents married. No male heirs have been born in the imperial family since 1965.

Since her birth, numerous politicians and citizens have called for changing the law that allows only males to become emperor, a largely ceremonial post that still commands tremendous respect and protocol.

The baby, who weighed 6.8 pounds, is healthy and may get her first taste of the royal paparazzi Saturday morning, when she and her mother are discharged from the hospital.

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