Japanese palace slams media over princess' pregnancy

The news that Princess Kiko, the wife of Emperor Akihito's second son, is pregnant, possibly with the family's first male heir to the throne in four decades, has triggered a rash of magazine articles about the happenings inside the moat.

But now the secretive palace has had enough. In an unusually harsh statement, the Imperial Household Agency on Thursday accused unidentified magazines of printing errors and urged them to stop it.

"Stories are largely based on speculation and are intended to make an impression that there are emotional confrontations and ill feelings among the family," said agency chief Shingo Haketa.

"From now on, we expect stories based on facts and sensibility from within reasonable bounds," he added, making the point by issuing a written protest to a main association of magazines.

The statement did not single out specific articles or magazines, and several publications who have put out recent stories about the royal pregnancy refused to comment, and one even demanded that its name not be mentioned.

The protest and the reaction of the magazines reflects the touchiness surrounding the pregnancy.

Kiko's pregnancy emerged as the government was pushing for a revision of the law barring women from the throne. Akihito's eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, have only one child, a 4-year-old daughter, Aiko.

Kiko and her husband, Prince Akishino, have two daughters and no sons. Under the current law, the family has no eligible heir to the throne after Naruhito and his brother, so steps were underway to allow Aiko to ascend the throne if necessary, reports the AP.

I.L.