updated 9/12/2006 5:27:39 AM ET 2006-09-12T09:27:39

The first male heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne in four decades was named Hisahito — meaning “virtuous, calm and everlasting,” — on Tuesday, the Imperial Household Agency announced.

The 6-day-old infant, who is third in line to be emperor, was given his name in an ancient imperial ceremony at the Tokyo hospital where his mother, Princess Kiko, is recovering.

The name Hisahito, formed with the Chinese characters for “virtuous, calm and everlasting,” was chosen with the wish that the new prince has a long, prosperous life, an even temper and peace of mind, palace spokeswoman Yuka Shiina said.

The baby’s name was written on special rice paper with a brush and ink and placed with his personal crest in a wooden box next to his pillow in a five-minute ceremony. The crest, a stylized Japanese umbrella pine, will be used to mark Hisahito’s belongings.

Keeping with custom, Hisahito’s name ends with the Chinese character “hito,” which means virtuous person, an appellation given to male royals. The current emperor is his grandfather, Akihito, whose father was Emperor Hirohito. The baby’s father, commonly known as Akishino, also was given the name Fumihito.

The new royal’s birth forestalled a crisis for Japan’s centuries-old imperial family, which had been lacking a fresh male heir.

The boy, Akihito’s first grandson, is to inherit the throne after his uncle, Crown Prince Naruhito, and then his father. Akishino and Naruhito had three daughters between them, but no sons, until last week.

The government was set to introduce a bill earlier this year to change a 1947 law that limits the throne to only men in an all-male line to the emperor.

The move stalled after Kiko’s pregnancy was announced in February. Kiko turned 40 on Monday.

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