|A.K.A.||Tennō Heika, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor, Emperor Akihito|
|Birth||December 23, 1933 (Tokyo)|
Akihito (明仁, born 23 December 1933) ( English pronunciation ) is the reigning Emperor of Japan (天皇, Tennō). He is the 125th emperor of his line according to Japan's traditional order of succession. Akihito succeeded his father Shōwa and acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on 7 January 1989. There has been ongoing coverage of his possible abdication due to age and health issues. 31 December 2018 has been mentioned as the date of such abdication.
In Japan, the Emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Majesty the Emperor" (天皇陛下 Tennō Heika) which may be shortened to "His Majesty" (陛下 Heika). In writing, the Emperor is also referred to formally as "The Reigning Emperor" (今上天皇 Kinjō Tennō). The Era of Akihito's reign bears the name "Heisei" (平成), and according to custom he will be renamed "Emperor Heisei" (平成天皇 Heisei Tennō; see "posthumous name") by order of the Cabinet after his death. At the same time, the name of the next era under his successor will also be established.
Akihito was born in the Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo City, Japan, and is the elder son and the fifth child of the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) and Empress Kōjun (Nagako). Titled Prince Tsugu (継宮 Tsugu-no-miya) as a child, he was raised and educated by his private tutors and then attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Peers' School (Gakushūin) from 1940 to 1952. Unlike his predecessors in the Imperial family, he did not receive a commission as an army officer, at the request of his father, Hirohito.
During the American firebombing raids on Tokyo in March 1945, Akihito and his younger brother, Prince Masahito, were evacuated from the city. During the American occupation of Japan following World War II, Prince Akihito was tutored in the English language and Western manners by Elizabeth Gray Vining. He briefly studied at the Department of Political Science at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, though he never received a degree.
Akihito was heir-apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne from the moment of his birth. His formal Investiture as Crown Prince (立太子礼 Rittaishi-no-rei) was held at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 10 November 1952. In June 1953 Akihito represented Japan at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London.
Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko made official visits to thirty-seven countries. As an Imperial prince, Akihito compared the role of Japanese royalty to that of a robot; and, he expressed the hope that he would like to help in bringing the Imperial family closer to the people of Japan.
Upon the death of Emperor Hirohito on 7 January 1989, his eldest son the Crown Prince Akihito succeeded (senso) to the throne, with an enthronement ceremony taking place (sokui) on 12 November 1990. In 1998, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, he was invested with UK Order of the Garter.
On 23 December 2001, during his annual birthday meeting with reporters, the Emperor, in response to a reporter's question about tensions with Korea, remarked that he felt a kinship with Koreans and went on to explain that, in the Shoku Nihongi, the mother of Emperor Kammu (736–806) is related to Muryeong of Korea, King of Baekje, a fact that was considered taboo.
Emperor Akihito underwent surgery for prostate cancer on 14 January 2003. Since succeeding to the throne, Emperor Akihito has made an effort to bring the Imperial family closer to the Japanese people. The Emperor and Empress of Japan have made official visits to eighteen countries and to all forty-seven Prefectures of Japan.
In response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima I nuclear crisis, the Emperor made a historic televised appearance urging his people not to give up hope and to help each other. The Emperor and Empress also made a visit on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 to a temporary shelter housing refugees of the disaster, in order to inspire hope in the people. This kind of event is also extremely rare, though in line with the Emperor's attempts to bring the Imperial family closer to the people. Later in 2011 he was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. In February 2012 it was announced that the Emperor would be having a coronary examination; he underwent successful heart bypass surgery on 18 February 2012.
On 13 July 2016, national broadcaster NHK reported that the Emperor intended to abdicate in favor of his eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito within a few years, citing his age; an abdication within the Imperial Family has not occurred since Emperor Kōkaku abdicated in 1817. However, senior officials within the Imperial Household Agency have denied that there is any official plan for the monarch to abdicate. A potential abdication by the Emperor would require an amendment to the Imperial Household Act, which currently has no provisions for such a move. On 8 August 2016, the Emperor gave a rare televised address, where he emphasized his advanced age and declining health; this address is interpreted as an implication of his intention to abdicate. According to government sources, to avoid interference with the Imperial Household Act and the line of succession law, a one off exception is being considered which would make way for his abdication. The date of which is expected to be on 31 December 2018.
Marriage and family
In August 1957, he met Michiko Shōda on a tennis court at Karuizawa near Nagano. The Imperial Household Council (a body composed of the Prime Minister of Japan, the presiding officers of the two houses of the Diet of Japan, the Chief Justice of Japan, and two members of the Imperial family) formally approved the engagement of the Crown Prince to Michiko Shōda on 27 November 1958. At that time, the media presented their encounter as a real "fairy tale", or the "romance of the tennis court". It was the first time a commoner would marry into the Imperial Family. The engagement ceremony took place on 14 January 1959, and the marriage on 10 April 1959.
The Emperor and Empress have three children: sons Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan (born 23 February 1960, formerly The Prince Hiro) and Fumihito, Prince Akishino (born 30 November 1965, formerly The Prince Aya) and daughter Mrs. Sayako Kuroda (born 18 April 1969, formerly The Princess Nori).
Despite being strictly constrained by his constitutional position, he also issued several wide-ranging statements of remorse to Asian countries, for their suffering under Japanese occupation, beginning with an expression of remorse to China made in April 1989, three months after the death of his father, Emperor Shōwa.
In June 2005, the Emperor visited the island of Saipan (part of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory), the site of a battle in World War II from 15 June to 9 July 1944 (known as the Battle of Saipan). Accompanied by Empress Michiko, he offered prayers and flowers at several memorials, honoring not only the Japanese who died, but also American soldiers, Korean laborers, and local islanders. It was the first trip by a Japanese monarch to a World War II battlefield abroad. The Saipan journey was received with high praise by the Japanese people, as were the Emperor's visits to war memorials in Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa in 1995.
On 6 September 2006, the Emperor celebrated the birth of his first grandson, Prince Hisahito, the third child of the Emperor's younger son. Prince Hisahito is the first male heir born to the Japanese imperial family in 41 years (since his father Prince Akishino) and could avert a possible succession crisis as the Emperor's elder son, the Crown Prince Naruhito, has only one daughter, Princess Aiko. Under Japan's male-only succession law, Princess Aiko is not eligible for the throne. The birth of Prince Hisahito could mean that proposed changes to the law to allow Aiko to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne will not go through after being temporarily shelved following the announcement of Princess Kiko's third pregnancy in February 2006. The supporters of changes criticized the current law as it placed a burden on the few aging males old enough to perform royal duties as females left the family.
In extension of his father's interest in marine biology, the Emperor is a published ichthyological researcher, and has specialized in studies within the taxonomy of the family Gobiidae. He has written papers for scholarly journals such as Gene and the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology.
He has also written papers about the history of science during the Edo and Meiji eras, which were published in Science and Nature. In 2005, a newly described goby was named Exyrias akihito in his honour.
- Member of the Ichthyological Society of Japan
- Foreign member of the Linnean Society of London (1980)
- Honorary member of the Linnean Society of London (1986)
- Research associate of the Australian Museum
- Honorary member of the Zoological Society of London (1992)
- Honorary member of the Research Institute for Natural Science of Argentina (1997)
- Honorary degree of the Uppsala University (2007)
- Hamilton, Alan. "Palace small talk problem solved: royal guest is a goby fish fanatic", The Times (London). 30 May 2007
- PubMed Search Results
- Akihito (October 1992). "Early cultivators of science in Japan". Science. 258 (5082): 578–80. doi:10.1126/science.1411568. PMID 1411568.
- His Majesty The Emperor of Japan (July 2007). "Linnaeus and taxonomy in Japan". Nature. 448 (7150): 139–140. doi:10.1038/448139a. PMID 17632886.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 23 December 1933 – 10 November 1952: His Imperial Highness The Prince Tsugu
- 10 November 1952 – 7 January 1989: His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince
- 7 January 1989 – present: His Majesty The Emperor
- National honours
- Collar and Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum
- Grand Cordon of The Order of the Rising Sun with the Paulownia Blossoms (renamed Grand Cordon of The Order of the Paulownia Flowers from 2003)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure
- Order of Culture
- The Golden Medal of Merit of the Japanese Red Cross
- The Golden Medal of Honorary Member of the Japanese Red Cross
- Foreign honours
|Afghanistan||Order of the Supreme Sun|
|Austria||Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria, Grand Star|
|Bahrain||Order of al-Khalifa, Collar|
|Belgium||Order of Leopold, Grand Cordon|
|Brazil||Order of the Southern Cross, Grand Collar|
|Cambodia||Royal Order of Cambodia, Grand Cross|
|Cameroon||Order of Valour, Grand Cordon|
|Chile||Order of the Merit of Chile, Grand Collar|
|Colombia||Order of Boyaca, Grand Collar|
|Côte d'Ivoire||National Order of the Ivory Coast, Grand Cordon|
|Czech Republic||Order of the White Lion, 1st Class (Civil Division) with Collar Chain|
|Denmark||Order of the Elephant (8 August 1953)|
|Egypt||Order of the Nile, Grand Collar|
|Estonia||Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, The Collar of the Cross|
|Ethiopia||Order of Solomon, Grand Collar|
|Finland||Order of the White Rose, Grand Cross with Collar|
|France||Légion d'honneur, Grand Cross|
|The Gambia||Order of the Republic of the Gambia, Grand Commander|
|Germany||Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Grand Cross, Special Class|
|Greece||Order of the Redeemer, Grand Cross|
|Hungary||Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Grand Cross with Chain|
|Iceland||Order of the Falcon, Grand Cross with Collar|
|Indonesia||Star of Adipurna, 1st Class|
|Ireland||Freedom of the City of Dublin, awarded by Lord Mayor of Dublin|
|Italy||Order of Merit of the Republic, Grand Cross with Cordon|
|Jordan||Order of al-Hussein bin Ali, Collar|
|Kazakhstan||Order of the Golden Eagle|
|Kenya||Order of the Golden Heart|
|Kuwait||Order of Mubarak the Great, Collar|
|Latvia||Order of the Three Stars, Commander Grand Cross with Chain|
|Liberia|| Order of the Star of Africa, Knight Grand Band |
Order of the Pioneers of Liberia, Grand Cordon
|Lithuania||Order of Vytautas the Great, the Great Grand Cross with Collar|
|Luxembourg||Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau, Knight|
|Malawi||Order of the Lion, Grand Commander|
|Malaysia||Honorary Recipient of the Order of the Crown of the Realm|
|Mali||National Order of Mali, Grand Cordon|
|Mexico||Order of the Aztec Eagle, Grand Collar|
|Morocco||Order of Muhammad, Grand Collar|
|Nepal|| Order of Ojaswi Rajanya, Member (19 April 1960) |
King Birendra Coronation Medal (24 February 1975)
|Netherlands||Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knight Grand Cross|
|Nigeria||Order of the Federal Republic, Grand Commander|
|Norway||Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Grand Cross with Collar|
|Oman||Order of Oman, Superior Class|
|Pakistan||Nishan-e-Pakistan, 1st Class|
|Panama||Order of Manuel Amador Guerrero, Gold Collar|
|Peru||Order of the Sun, Grand Cross in Brilliants|
|Philippines|| Philippine Legion of Honor, Chief Commander |
Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Raja
Order of Lakandula, Grand Collar
|Poland||Order of the White Eagle|
|Portugal|| Order of Saint James of the Sword, Grand Collar (2 December 1993) |
Order of Prince Henry, Grand Collar (12 May 1998)
|Qatar||Collar of Independence|
|Saudi Arabia||Badr Chain|
|Senegal||Order of the Lion, Collar|
|South Africa||Order of Good Hope, Grand Cross in Gold|
|Spain|| Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight |
Order of Charles III, Grand Cross
Order of Charles III, Collar
|Sweden||Royal Order of the Seraphim, Knight with Collar|
|Thailand|| The Most Auspicious Order of the Rajamitrabhorn |
The Most Illustrious Order of the Royal House of Chakri
|Ukraine||Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, First Class|
|United Arab Emirates||Collar of the Federation|
|United Kingdom|| Stranger Knight of Order of the Garter (985th member; 1998) |
Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (?)
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (2 June 1953)
|FR Yugoslavia*||Order of the Yugoslav Star|
|Zaire||National Order of the Leopard, Grand Cordon|
- FR Yugoslavia split into Serbia and Montenegro.
- Other awards
- The Royal Society King Charles II Medal
- Golden Pheasant Award of the Scout Association of Japan (1971)
|Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan||23 February 1960||9 June 1993||Masako Owada||Aiko, Princess Toshi|
|Fumihito, Prince Akishino||30 November 1965||29 June 1990||Kiko Kawashima||Princess Mako of Akishino |
Princess Kako of Akishino
Prince Hisahito of Akishino
|Sayako, Princess Nori||18 April 1969||15 November 2005||Yoshiki Kuroda|
|Ancestors of Akihito|
Akihito's patriline is the line from which he is descended father to son.
Patrilineal descent is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations, which means that Akihito is a member of the Imperial House of Japan.