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 is the current   of Japanmarker, 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 "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor" 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" ( ), 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.


A 17 year-old Akihito riding on his horse "White Snow" in December, 1950.
Akihito is the eldest son and the fifth child of Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) and Nagako (Kōjun). 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. 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 Tokyomarker 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 Palacemarker on 10 November 1952. In June 1953, Crown Prince Akihito represented Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

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 Shōwa 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 Kingdommarker, 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.

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 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. 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.

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.

Marriage and children

On 10 April 1959, he married Miss Michiko Shōda (born 24 October 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 Chinamarker made in April 1989, three months after the death of his father, Emperor Shōwa.

In June 2005, the Emperor visited the U.S.marker territory of Saipanmarker, the site of one of the most brutal World War II battles 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 Tokyomarker, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Okinawamarker 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.

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

He has also written papers about Scientific History in Japan 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.


Personal standard of the emperor

Foreign Awards
Country Awards
Order of the Supreme Sun
Grand Decoration of Honour Grand Star
Order of al-Khalifa Collar
Order of Leopold Grand Cross
Presidential Order
Order of the Southern Cross Grand Collar
Order of Valour Grand Cordon
Order of the Merit of Chile Grand Collar
Order of the Cross of Boyaca Grand Collar
Order of the Ivory Coast Grand Cordon
Order of the White Lion 1st Class (Civil Division) with Collar Chain
Order of the Elephant Knight Grand Cross
Order of the Nile Grand Collar
Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana The Collar of the Cross
Order of Solomon Grand Collar
Order of the White Rose Grand Cross with Collar
Légion d'honneur Grand Cross
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Grand Cross, Special Class
Order of the Redeemer Grand Cross
Order of Merit of Hungary Grand Cross
Order of the Falcon Grand Cross with Collar
Star of Adipurna 1st Class
Order of Pahlavi Grand Collar
Order of Merit of the Republic Grand Cross with Cordon
Order of Hussein ibn' Ali Collar
Order of the Golden Eagle
Order of the Golden Heart
Order of Mubarak the Great Collar
Order of the Three Stars Grand Cross with Collar
Order of the Star of Africa Knight Grand Band

Order of the Pioneers of the Republic Knight Grand Band
Order of Vytautas the Great the Great Grand Cross with Collar
Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau Knight
Order of the Lion Grand Commander
National Order Grand Cordon
Order of the Aztec Eagle Grand Collar
Order of Muhammad Grand Collar
Order of Ojaswi Rajanya
Order of the Netherlands Lion Knight Grand Cross
Order of the Federal Republic Grand Cordon
Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav Grand Cross with Collar
Order of Oman Superior Class
Order of Pakistan 1st Class
Order of Manuel Amador Guerrero Gold Collar
Order of the Sun Grand Cross in Brilliants
Philippine Legion of Honor Chief Commander
Order of the White Eagle
Riband of the Three Orders
Collar of Independence
Badr Chain
Order of the Lion Grand Cordon
Order of Good Hope Grand Cross in Gold
Order of Carlos III Grand Cross with Collar

Order of the Golden Fleece Knight
Royal Order of the Seraphim Knight
The Most Auspicious Order of the Rajamitrabhorn

The Most Illustrious Order of the Royal House of Chakri
Order of the Republic of Gambia Grand Commander
Collar of the Federation
Stranger 984th Knight of 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


Akihito's ancestors in three generations
Akihito Father:

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:

Princess Sadako of the Fujiwara Clan, Empress Teimei
Paternal Great-grandfather:

Prince Kujō Michitaka of the Fujiwara Clan
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

See also


External links

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