Sunday, December 23, 2012

Royal Profile: HIH Emperor Akihito of Japan

Emperor Akihito of Japan was born 23 December 1923, the eldest son and the fifth child of Emperor Hirohito (the Showa Emperor) and Empress Kōjun. He had 5 sisters and one brother:

  • Princess Teru (1925-1961)
  • Princess Hisa (1927-1928)
  • Princess Taka (1929-1989)
  • Princess Yori (1931-)
  • Prince Hitachhi (1935-)
  • Princess Suga (1937-)
He was known as Prince Tsugu as a child (like his granddaughter is Princess Toshi today). He was educated primarily by private tutors before attending Gakushūin School from 1940-1952. Unlike the emperors before him, he did not receive a commission in he Japanese Army at the request of his father. When he was 22 years old, he and his brother were evaccuated from Japan during the WWII battles with The Americans. During the American occupation of Japan, he was tutored in English and Western manners. He briefly studied Poliical Science at Gakushuin University, but never received a degree. 

His formal investiture as Crown Prince of Japan took place in November 1952, when he was 28 (a month and some before his 29th birthday) years old. In June of the following year, he represented Japan at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and visited Queen Elizabeth for her Diamond Jubilee again in 2012. Since then, he along side his wife, then Crown Princess Michiko, who he married in 1959 have visited 37 countries on official visits. 

His father died in January 1989, and he was formally invested as Emperor almost two years later, in November 1990. In 1998, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, he was invested with The Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Like most "normal people", the Emperor has had a few health scares in his life time. In January 2003, he underwent treatment for prostate cancer. In 2011, he suffered pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital. In 2012, he underwent heart bypass surgery. 

Together, with his wife, he has the following children and grandchildren:

  • HIH Crown Prince Naruhito ( 1960, titled  Prince Hiro)
  • HIH Princess Aiko, Princess Toshi (2001, daughter of the Crown Prince)
  • HIH Prince Akishino (1965, titled Aya-no-miya or Prince Aya)
  • Princess Mako ( 1991) (daughter of Prince Akishino)
  • Princess Kako (1994)(daughter of Prince Akishino)
  • Prince Hisahito (2006) (son of Prince Akishino)
  • The former HIH Princess Nori ( 1969, titled Nori-no-miya or Princess Nori)

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