Emperor Akihito of Japan, born on December 23, 1933, is a former Emperor of Japan who reigned from January 7, 1989 to April 30, 2019. Akihito was the first Japanese monarch to reign under the 1947 Constitution of Japan, which established the country as a constitutional monarchy.
Born to Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako, Akihito was educated at the Department of Political Science at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, where he studied history, law, and politics. In 1959, he studied at Merton College, Oxford, where he focused on the history of fish.
During his reign, Emperor Akihito focused on promoting peace and reconciliation, both within Japan and internationally. He frequently traveled abroad, meeting with heads of state and promoting cultural exchange. In Japan, he was known for his commitment to environmental conservation and his efforts to promote cultural heritage.
Emperor Akihito’s wealth has not been publicly disclosed, as the Imperial Household Agency does not release financial details of the royal family. However, it is estimated that the Imperial family’s wealth is significant, and they own a variety of assets, including land, stocks, and artwork.
In 2017, Emperor Akihito announced his intention to abdicate the throne, citing his age and declining health. He officially stepped down on April 30, 2019, making him the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in over 200 years.
Emperor Akihito’s legacy will be remembered for his commitment to peace, environmental conservation, and cultural heritage. His abdication marked the end of an era in Japanese history, and he was succeeded by his son, Emperor Naruhito.
Here’s a timeline of Emperor Akihito:
- December 23, 1933: Akihito is born in Tokyo, Japan, the fifth child and eldest son of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako.
- 1941-1945: Akihito is evacuated with his family from Tokyo during World War II and lives in a palace in the countryside.
- 1952-1953: Akihito studies at Merton College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
- April 10, 1959: Akihito marries Michiko Shoda, a commoner and daughter of a wealthy industrialist.
- February 23, 1960: Akihito’s first child, Crown Prince Naruhito, is born.
- 1989: Akihito ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne after the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito.
- 1993: Akihito visits China, becoming the first Japanese emperor to visit the country since the end of World War II.
- 1998: Akihito and Michiko visit the United States, making stops in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Hawaii.
- 2011: Akihito gives a rare televised address to the nation following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, expressing his condolences and urging the Japanese people to work together to rebuild.
- December 23, 2018: Akihito becomes the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in over 200 years, passing the throne to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.
- April 30, 2019: Akihito officially retires from his royal duties and becomes known as the Emperor Emeritus.
Here are 5 interesting facts about Emperor Akihito and 5 quotes by him:
- Emperor Akihito is the first Japanese emperor to marry a commoner, Michiko Shoda, who he met on the tennis court.
- He is a published ichthyologist and has written several papers on the study of fish, his area of academic interest.
- Emperor Akihito is fluent in English and has been known to give speeches in the language during his visits abroad.
- He has been an advocate for peace and reconciliation, often visiting sites of past conflicts and offering condolences to the victims.
- Emperor Akihito is also a keen pianist and has given several public performances.
- “I am profoundly grateful for the sixty-three years I have spent as emperor, reigning with a sincere heart, and for the people who have supported me.”
- “I would like to express my heartfelt respect and admiration for the efforts of the Korean people in their remarkable economic and social development over the years.”
- “In the modern age, countries around the world are becoming increasingly interdependent. No country can afford to ignore the world’s affairs and turn inward.”
- “It is important that we recognize the need for a paradigm shift in our thinking regarding the natural environment.”
- “I am determined to face anew the duties and responsibilities of the emperor as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan.”