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Giant panda cub born in Tokyo zoo for 1st time since 2012

A giant panda cub was born in a Tokyo zoo for the first time in
five years on Monday, with both Japanese and Chinese people, even in
political circles, sharing the good news.

The Ueno Zoological Gardens said the mother, the 11-year-old
Shin Shin, and her newborn, whose sex remains unknown, appear be in
good health.

"This is very joyful," Japan's top government spokesman
Yoshihide Suga told a regular press conference. "I want the cub to
grow up vigorously and healthily."

Suga also said a giant panda, loved by so many people for its
charming face and gestures, is "one of the great testaments to the
Japan-China friendship."

Shin Shin's previous cub died in 2012 just under a week after
being born at Japan's most famous and oldest zoo, which opened in
1882.

Sino-Japanese relations have often been dogged by wartime
issues, but China also welcomed the birth of the new panda cub.

"This is good news," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said
during a press briefing in Beijing. "A giant panda has always been a
friendly envoy of China with other countries, and we also hope the
panda will play a bigger role in promoting the friendship between
Chinese and Japanese nationals."

Shin Shin and her male partner, Ri Ri, arrived at the Ueno zoo
in February 2011 on loan from China.

She was seen mating with Ri Ri on Feb. 27 and had been showing
signs of pregnancy, including loss of appetite and increased
lethargy, from around May 16, prompting the zoo to remove her from
public view.

The expectant mother started moving restlessly inside her cage
from Saturday and the zoo confirmed her water broke Monday morning,
followed by the cub's first cry at 11:52 a.m., it said.

The same pair had a cub in July 2012 through natural mating, the
first in 24 years at the zoo in Taito Ward, but it died from
pneumonia six days after birth.

Shin Shin was also thought to be pregnant in 2013, but it later
proved to be a false alarm.

Giant pandas are born very small and premature, with a newborn
weighing 100 to 200 grams, roughly a thousandth of its mother.

Chinese experts have said that in the cases of first birth for
mother pandas, 60 to 70 percent of cubs die within the first week.

Still, news of the latest birth drew positive reactions even on
the political and economic fronts.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike also said she is "delighted" with the
news and looking forward to the cub's naming and the day it is shown
to the public.

Panda-linked stocks rose sharply on the news, with Ueno-based
Chinese restaurant chain Toh-Ten-Koh Corp. shares temporarily jumping
by the day's allowable limit to end at 224 yen, up 6.7 percent from
Friday, as investors speculated more people would come to the area to
see the panda, according to dealers. (June 12)