Akihito (明仁?, born 23 December 1933) is the current reigning Emperor of Japan (天皇, tennō?), the 125th emperor of his line according to Japan's traditional order of succession. He acceded to the throne in 1989.
In Japan, the emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor" which may be shortened to "His Imperial Majesty" (天皇陛下, Tennō 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.
The newly married Crown Prince and Crown Princess in Japanese traditional attire, with the Prince wearing a sokutai, the Princess a jūnihitoe
Akihito is the eldest son and the fifth child of Emperor Hirohito (the Shōwa Emperor) and Empress Kōjun. 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, he 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 English 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. Although he 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, Crown Prince Akihito represented Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London.
Then-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.
After the death of Emperor Hirohito on 7 January 1989, the crown prince received the succession (senso). Emperor Akihito formally acceded to the throne (sokui) on 12 November 1990. In 1998, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, he was invested with The Most Noble 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.
Emperor Akihito underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 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, as well as 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 had never been featured in a prerecorded televised message before, and so this event is historic and showed the scale of this disaster. The Emperor and the 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.
He was among several monarchs invited to lunch with Elizabeth II during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in May 2012.
Marriage and children
On 10 April 1959, he married Michiko Shōda (born 20 October 1934), the eldest daughter of Hidesaburo Shōda, the president and later honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Company. The new Crown Princess was the first commoner to marry into the imperial family. The Emperor and the Empress have three children:
- HIH Crown Prince Naruhito (b. 23 February 1960, titled Hiro-no-miya or Prince Hiro),
- HIH Prince Akishino (Fumihito, b. 30 November 1965, titled Aya-no-miya or Prince Aya) and
- The former HIH Princess Nori (Sayako, b. 18 April 1969, titled Nori-no-miya or 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 US territory of Saipan, the site of a battle in World War II from 15 June to 9 July 1944 (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, has only one daughter, Princess Aiko. Under Japan's current 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.
In extension of his father's interest in marine biology, the Emperor is a published ichthyological researcher, and has specialized studies within the taxonomy of the family Gobiidae. He has written papers for scholarly journals, namely 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)
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 of Japan
- 7 January 1989 – present: His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Japan
- 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
|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|
|Cameroon||Order of Valour Grand Cordon|
|Chile||Order of the Merit of Chile Grand Collar|
|Colombia||Order of the Cross of Boyaca Grand Collar|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo / Zaire||National Order of the Leopard Grand Cordon|
|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 Knight Grand Cross (8.8.1953)|
|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|
|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|
|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 the Republic Knight Grand Band
|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 (Malawi) Grand Commander|
|Malaysia||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 the Mohammedi Grand Collar|
|Nepal||Order of Ojaswi Rajanya Knight|
|Netherlands||Order of the Netherlands Lion Knight Grand Cross|
|Nigeria||Order of the Federal Republic Grand Cordon|
|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|
|Poland||Order of the White Eagle|
|Portugal||Order of Saint James of the Sword & Order of Prince Henry Grand Collar|
|Qatar||Collar of Independence|
|Saudi Arabia||Badr Chain|
|Senegal||Order of the Lion Grand Cordon|
|South Africa||Order of Good Hope Grand Cross in Gold|
|Spain||Order of the Golden Fleece Knight |
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
|The Gambia||Order of the Republic of Gambia Grand Commander|
|Ukraine||Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise First Class|
|United Arab Emirates||Collar of the Federation|
|United Kingdom||Stranger 984th Knight of Order of the Garter|
|Commonwealth realms||Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order |
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
|FR Yugoslavia||Order of the Yugoslav Star|
- The Royal Society King Charles II Medal
|Crown Prince Naruhito||23 February 1960||9 June 1993||Masako Owada||Princess Toshi|
|Prince Akishino||30 November 1965||29 June 1990||Kiko Kawashima||Princess Mako of Akishino |
Princess Kako of Akishino
Prince Hisahito of Akishino
|Princess Nori||18 April 1969||15 November 2005||Yoshiki Kuroda|
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.
- "National Day of Japan to be celebrated". Embassy of Japan in Pakistan. 2007-12-07. Archived from the original on 2 February 2008. http://www.pk.emb-japan.go.jp/PRESS/Press%202007/JPNEMPAK%2007-041,%20NATIONAL%20DAY%20OF%20JAPAN%20TO%20BE%20CELEBRATED.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- "Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress". Imperial Household Agency. 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20071201092521/http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/e03/ed03-01.html. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May – One Day – Ascend a Throne," New York Times. 14 November 1971.
- Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44.
- "Press Conference on the Occasion of His Majesty's Birthday | 2001-12-18". Imperial Household Agency. Archived from the original on 2008-05-25. http://web.archive.org/web/20080525113304/http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/epress/epress-01-12.html. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "Akihito has successful cancer operation". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 2003-01-18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/2671271.stm. Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- "Six days later, Japanese still confronting magnitude of quake crisis". CNN. 29 April 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/16/japan.disaster/index.html?hpt=T1#.
- http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/16/us-japan-quake-emperor-idUSTRE72F23520110316 Archived 16 March 2011 at WebCite
- "Japan's Emperor Akihito leaves Tokyo hospital". BBC News. 24 November 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-15868000. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Mainichi Daily News. 1 February 2012. http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120201p2g00m0dm109000c.html.
- "Report: Japan's emperor undergoes successful cardiac bypass - CNN.com". CNN. 18 February 2012. http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/18/world/asia/japan-emperor-surgery/index.html?hpt=hp_t3.
- Fukada, Takahiro, "Emperor — poise under public spotlight", Japan Times, 24 November 2009, p. 3.
- Hamilton, Alan. "Palace small talk problem solved: royal guest is a goby fish fanatic," The Times (London). 30 May 2007
- PubMed Search Results
- Akihito (Oct 1992). "Early cultivators of science in Japan". Science 258 (5082): 578–80. doi:10.1126/science.1411568. PMID 1411568. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=1411568.
- His Majesty The Emperor of Japan (Jul 2007). "Linnaeus and taxonomy in Japan". Nature 448 (7150): 139–140. doi:10.1038/448139a. PMID 17632886.
- www.borger.dk, Persondetaljer - Hans Kejserlige Højhed Akihito
- "Akihito". Bearers of decorations. president.ee. http://www.president.ee/en/estonia/decorations/bearers.php?id=751. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
- Presidency, table of recipients of the Order of the Three Stars since 2004.
- Decree 1K-974
- Volks krant, State visit of Netherlands in Japan, 1991, Group Photo
- The Royal Forums, State visit of japan in Norway, May 2005, Photo
- "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas" (in pt). presidencia.pt. http://www.ordens.presidencia.pt/?idc=154. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- "Noblesse et Royautés" (French), State visit of Spain in Japan, November 2008
- Getty Images, State visit of Sweden in Japan, 03/2007, Group photo