Akihito Explained

明仁 今上天皇
Emperor of Japan
Reign:January 7, 1989 – present
Coronation:November 12, 1990
Predecessor:Emperor Showa
Successor:Prince Naruhito
Suc-Type:Heir apparent
Spouse:Michiko Shoda
Issue:Naruhito, Prince Hiro
Fumihito, Prince Aya
Sayako Kuroda
House:Yamato Dynasty
Royal Anthem:Kimi ga Yo
Mother:Empress Kojun
Styles:HIM The Emperor of Japan
HIH The Prince Tsugu
Place Of Birth:Tokyo, Japan
Occupation:Ichthyological researcher

is the current of Japan, and the 125th Emperor according to Japan's traditional order of succession. He acceded to the throne in 1989, and is the 20th most senior monarch or lifelong leader. He is the world's only reigning monarch whose title is customarily translated into English as "Emperor".


In Japan, the emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as, which may be shortened to . In writing, the emperor is also referred to formally as . The Era of Akihito's reign bears the name "Heisei" (Japanese: 平成), and according to custom he will be renamed "Emperor Heisei" (平成天皇; see "posthumous name") after his death by order of the cabinet, in which the name of the next era under his successor will also be established.[1]


Akihito is the eldest son and the fifth child of the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) and Empress Kōjun (Nagako). Titled as a child, he was raised and educated by his private tutors and then attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Peers' School (Gakushuin) from 1940 to 1952.[2] Unlike his precedents in the Imperial Family, he did not receive a commission as an Army officer, at the request from his father, Hirohito.

During the American firebombing raids on Tokyo in March 1945, he and his younger brother, HIH 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 was held at the Kokyo Imperial Palace on November 10, 1952. In June 1953, Crown Prince Akihito represented Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.[2]

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.[3]

After the death of Emperor Shōwa on January 7, 1989, the crown prince received the succession (senso).[4] Emperor Akihito formally acceded to the throne (sokui)[4] on November 12, 1990.[2] In 1998, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, he was invested with The Most Noble Order of the Garter. To this date, Akihito is the only stranger Knight of the Garter who is of non-European descent.[5]

On December 23, 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 Korean peninsula and went on to explain that in the Shoku Nihongi the mother of Emperor Kammu (736 - 806) was one of 10th descendants of the king of Baekje, Muryeong.[6] The Emperor also noted that Koreans who migrated to Japan in ancient times introduced some aspects of culture and technology to the country, and that the regrettable fact that Japan’s exchanges with Korea have not all been so friendly should never be forgotten. These remarks were reported and became headlines in the South Korean Media[7] .

Emperor Akihito underwent surgery for prostate cancer in January, 2003.[8] 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.[2]

Marriage and children

On April 10, 1959, he married Miss Michiko Shōda (born October 24, 1934), the eldest daughter of Mr. 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:

Official functions

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 U.S. territory of Saipan, the site of one of the most brutal World War II battles from June 15 to July 9, 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 September 6, 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.


Japanese Awards

Foreign Awards

AfghanistanOrder of the Supreme Sun
AustriaDecoration of Honour for Merit Grand Star
BahrainOrder of al-Khalifa Collar
BelgiumOrder of Leopold Grand Cross
BotswanaPresidential Order
BrazilOrder of the Southern Cross Grand Collar
CameroonOrder of Valour Grand Cordon
ChileOrder of Merit Grand Collar
ColombiaOrder of the Cross of Boyaca Grand Collar
Cote d'IvoireOrder of the Ivory Coast Grand Cordon
Czech RepublicOrder of the White Lion 1st Class (Civil Division) with Collar Chain
DenmarkOrder of the Elephant Knight Grand Cross
EgyptOrder of the Nile Grand Collar
EstoniaOrder of the Cross of Terra Mariana The Collar of the Cross
EthiopiaOrder of Solomon Grand Collar
FinlandOrder of the White Rose Grand Cross with Collar
FranceLégion d'honneur Grand Cross
GermanyOrder of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Grand Cross, Special Class
GreeceOrder of the Redeemer Grand Cross
HungaryOrder of Merit Grand Cross
IcelandOrder of the Icelandic Falcon Grand Cross with Collar
IndonesiaStar of Adipurna 1st Class
Order of Pahlavi Grand Collar
ItalyOrder of Merit of the Republic Grand Cross with Cordon
JordanOrder of Hussein ibn' Ali Collar
KazakhstanOrder of the Golden Eagle
KenyaOrder of the Golden Heart
KuwaitOrder of Mubarak the Great Collar
LatviaOrder of The Three Stars Grand Cross with Collar
LiberiaOrder of the Star of Africa Knight Grand Band
Order of the Pioneers of the Republic Knight Grand Band
LithuaniaOrder of Vytautas the Great the Great Grand Cross with Collar[9]
LuxembourgOrder of the Golden Lion of the House of Nassau Knight
MalawiOrder of the Lion Grand Commander
MaliNational Order Grand Cordon
MexicoOrder of the Aztec Eagle Grand Collar
MoroccoOrder of Muhammad Grand Collar
NepalOrder of Ojaswi Rajanya
NetherlandsOrder of the Netherlands Lion Knight Grand Cross
NigeriaOrder of the Federal Republic Grand Cordon
NorwayRoyal Norwegian Order of St. Olav Grand Cross with Collar
OmanOrder of Oman Superior Class
PakistanOrder of Pakistan 1st Class
PanamaOrder of Manuel Amador Guerrero Gold Collar
PeruOrder of the Sun Grand Cross in Brilliants
PhilippinesPhilippine Legion of Honor Chief Commander[10]
PolandOrder of the White Eagle
PortugalRiband of the Three Orders
QatarCollar of Independence
Saudi ArabiaBadr Chain
SenegalOrder of the Lion Grand Cordon
South AfricaOrder of Good Hope Grand Cross in Gold
SpainOrder of Carlos III Grand Cross with Collar
Order of the Golden Fleece Knight
SwedenRoyal Order of the Seraphim Knight
ThailandThe Most Auspicious Order of the Rajamitrabhorn
The Most Illustrious Order of the Royal House of Chakri
Order of the Republic of Gambia Grand Commander
United Arab EmiratesCollar of the Federation
United KingdomStranger Knight of The Most Noble Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
Order of the Yugoslavian Grand Star
Order of the Leopard Grand Cordon

Other Awards

Ichthyological research

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.[11] He has written papers for publication in Japanese and English scholarly journals, namely Gene and the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology[12] .

He has also written papers about Scientific History in Japan during the Edo and Meiji Eras, which were published in Science[13] and Nature[14] . In 2005 a newly described goby was named Exyrias akihito in his honour.


Akihito's ancestors in three generations
Hirohito, Emperor Shōwa
Paternal Grandfather:
Yoshihito, Emperor Taishō
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Mutsuhito, Emperor Meiji
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Adopted: Haruko, Empress Shōken - Biological: Lady Yanagihara Naruko, concubine
Paternal Grandmother:
Sadako, Empress Teimei
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Prince Kujō Michitaka
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Lady Noma Ikuko, concubine
Nagako, Empress Kōjun
Maternal Grandfather:
Imperial Prince Kuniyoshi Kuni
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Prince Kuni Asahiko
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Lady Isume Makiko, concubine
Maternal Grandmother:
Princess Shimazu Chikako of Satsuma
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Prince Shimazu Tadayoshi, 29th and last Daimyo of Satsuma, Osumi and Hyuga
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Lady Hiro Sumako, concubine


  1. News: NATIONAL DAY OF JAPAN TO BE CELEBRATED. 2007-12-07. Embassy of Japan in Pakistan. 2007-12-28.
  2. Web site: Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress. 2007-12-28. 2002. Imperial Household Agency.
  3. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10C14F83D591A7493C6A8178AD95F458785F9&scp=1&sq=akihito%20%20and%20Windsor&st=cse "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May -- One Day -- Ascend a Throne,"
  4. Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44.
  5. News: PoWs' anger at Akihito honour. 1998-04-10. British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 2007-12-28.
  6. Web site: Press Conference on the Occasion of His Majesty's Birthday. Imperial Household Agency. 2008-07-07.
  7. http://srchdb1.chosun.com/pdf/i_service/read_body.jsp?ID=0202051901 일 환무왕 생모‘백제 화씨부인’묘소 탐방기;초라한 왕후릉… 교토 야산에 홀로 잠들어 조선일보
  8. News: Akihito has successful cancer operation. 2003-01-18. British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC News. 2007-12-28.
  9. Decree 1K-974
  10. http://www.ops.gov.ph/japan2002/news2.htm
  11. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1857043.ece Hamilton, Alan. "Palace small talk problem solved: royal guest is a goby fish fanatic,"
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=PubMed&Cmd=Search&Term=%22Akihito%20%22%5BAuthor%5D&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstract PubMed Search Results
  13. Akihito. Early cultivators of science in Japan. Science. 258. 5082. 578–80. 1992. Oct. 1411568. 10.1126/science.1411568.
  14. His Majesty The Emperor of Japan. Linnaeus and taxonomy in Japan. Nature. 448. 7150. 139–140. 2007. Jul. 17632886. 10.1038/448139a.

See also

External links