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For other uses, see Akihito (given name) and Akihito (genus).
Emperor Akihito cropped 2 Barack Obama Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko 20140424 1.jpg
Emperor of Japan
Reign 7 January 1989 – present
Enthronement 12 November 1990
Predecessor Shōwa
Heir apparent Crown Prince Naruhito
Prime Ministers
Spouse Michiko Shōda
Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan
Fumihito, Prince Akishino
Sayako, Princess Nori
Full name
Akihito (明仁?)
House Imperial House of Japan
Father Emperor Shōwa
Mother Empress Kōjun
Born (1933-12-23) 23 December 1933 (age 81)
Tokyo, Japan
Religion Shintoism
Japanese Imperial Family
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg

HIH The Prince Mikasa
HIH The Princess Mikasa

Akihito (明仁?, born 23 December 1933) About this sound English pronunciation  is the 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 Chrysanthemum Throne in 1989.

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?).[1] 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 Cabinet after his death. At the same time, the name of the next era under his successor will also be established.[2]


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 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.[3] 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.

Although he was Heir-Apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne from the moment of his birth, Akihito's 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.[3]

Imperial Standard

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.[4]

After the death of Emperor Hirohito on 7 January 1989, the crown prince received the succession (senso).[5] Emperor Akihito formally acceded to the throne (sokui)[5] on 12 November 1990.[3] 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.[6]

Emperor Akihito underwent surgery for prostate cancer in January 14, 2003.[7] 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.[3]

In response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima I nuclear crisis, the Emperor made a historic televised appearance[8] urging his people not to give up hope and to help each other. 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.[9] Later in 2011, he was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia.[10] In February 2012, it was announced that the Emperor would be having a coronary examination.[11] He underwent successful heart bypass surgery on 18 February 2012.[12]

Marriage and children[edit]

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.[3][13] The new Crown Princess was the first commoner to marry into the Imperial Family. The Emperor and Empress have three children:

Official functions[edit]

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan on 28 June 2005

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,[14] 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.


The Emperor of Japan, at Chowaden Reception Hall, giving a New Year's address to the people of Japan in 2010.

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.

Ichthyological research[edit]

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.[15] He has written papers for scholarly journals, namely Gene and the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology.[16]

He has also written papers about the history of science during the Edo and Meiji eras, which were published in Science[17] and Nature.[18] In 2005, a newly described goby was named Exyrias akihito in his honour.

Titles and styles[edit]

Monarchical styles of
Emperor Akihito
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg
Reference style His Majesty[19]
Spoken style Your Majesty[20]
Alternative style Sir
  • 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[21]


Crown Prince Akihito on his wedding day, 10 April 1959

National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in April 2011.
Country Awards
 Afghanistan Order of the Supreme Sun
 Austria Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria, Grand Star [22]
 Bahrain Order of al-Khalifa, Collar
 Belgium Order of Leopold, Grand Cordon
 Botswana Presidential Order
 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 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)[23]
 Egypt Order of the Nile, Grand Collar
 Estonia Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, The Collar of the Cross[24]
 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[25]
 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[26]
 Luxembourg Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau, Knight
 Malawi Order of the Lion, 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 Muhammad, Grand Collar
   Nepal Order of Ojaswi Rajanya, Member
 Netherlands Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knight Grand Cross[27]
 Nigeria Order of the Federal Republic, Grand Cordon
 Norway Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, Grand Cross with Collar[28]
 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[29]
Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Raja [30]
 Poland Order of the White Eagle
 Portugal Order of Saint James of the Sword, Grand Collar
Order of Prince Henry, Grand Collar[31]
 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[32]
Order of Charles III Grand Cross
Order of Charles III Collar
 Sweden Royal Order of the Seraphim, Knight with Collar[33]
 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
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal
 FR Yugoslavia* Order of the Yugoslav Star
  • FR Yugoslavia split into Serbia and Montenegro.

Other awards[edit]


Name Birth Marriage Issue
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


Patrilineal descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Members of the Order of the Garter". The British Monarchy. 
  2. ^ "National Day of Japan to be celebrated". Embassy of Japan in Pakistan. 7 December 2007. Archived from the original on 2 February 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress". Imperial Household Agency. 2002. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2007. 
  4. ^ "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May – One Day – Ascend a Throne," New York Times. 14 November 1971.
  5. ^ a b Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44.
  6. ^ "Press Conference on the Occasion of His Majesty's Birthday". Imperial Household Agency. Archived from the original on 25 May 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2008. 
  7. ^ "Akihito has successful cancer operation". BBC News (BBC). 18 January 2003. Retrieved 28 December 2007. 
  8. ^ "Six days later, Japanese still confronting magnitude of quake crisis". CNN. 29 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Japanese emperor visits evacuation center[dead link]
  10. ^ "Japan's Emperor Akihito leaves Tokyo hospital". BBC News. 24 November 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Emperor Akihito to have coronary examination". Mainichi Daily News. 1 February 2012. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Report: Japan's emperor undergoes successful cardiac bypass". CNN. 18 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Fukada, Takahiro, "Emperor — poise under public spotlight[dead link]", Japan Times, 24 November 2009, p. 3.
  14. ^ Brooke, James (June 28, 2005). "Visiting Saipan, Japan's Emperor Honors Dead". New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  15. ^ Hamilton, Alan. "Palace small talk problem solved: royal guest is a goby fish fanatic," The Times (London). 30 May 2007
  16. ^ PubMed Search Results
  17. ^ Akihito (October 1992). "Early cultivators of science in Japan". Science 258 (5082): 578–80. doi:10.1126/science.1411568. PMID 1411568. 
  18. ^ His Majesty The Emperor of Japan (July 2007). "Linnaeus and taxonomy in Japan". Nature 448 (7150): 139–140. doi:10.1038/448139a. PMID 17632886. 
  19. ^ "The Imperial Household Agency". 
  20. ^ "The Imperial Household Agency". 
  21. ^ "The Imperial Household Agency". 
  22. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 1298. Retrieved November 2012. 
  23. ^ Persondetaljer - Hans Kejserlige Højhed Akihito. borger.dk.
  24. ^ "Akihito". Bearers of decorations. president. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  25. ^ Presidency, table of recipients of the Order of the Three Stars since 2004.
  26. ^ Decree 1K-974
  27. ^ Volks krant, State visit of Netherlands in Japan, 1991, Group Photo
  28. ^ The Royal Forums, State visit of Japan in Norway, May 2005, Photo
  29. ^ OPS.gov.ph
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas" (in Portuguese). presidencia.pt. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  32. ^ "Noblesse et Royautés" (French), State visit of Spain in Japan, November 2008
  33. ^ Getty Images, State visit of Sweden in Japan, 03/2007, Group photo
  34. ^ "Ancestry in Genealogics.org". 

External links[edit]

Born: 23 December 1933
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Shōwa
Emperor of Japan
Heir apparent:
Crown Prince Naruhito
Order of precedence in Japan
First Gentlemen
as the Sovereign
Succeeded by
The Crown Prince