Here’s a look at the life of Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan.
Birth date: December 23, 1933
Birth place: Tokyo, Japan
Birth name: Tsugunomiya Akihito
Father: Emperor Hirohito
Mother: Empress Nagako Kuni
Marriage: Michiko Shoda (April 10, 1959-present)
Children: Nori no miya Sayako Naishinnô, Princess Sayako (aka Princess Nori); Akishino no miya Fumihito Shinnô, Prince Akishino; Hiro no miya Naruhito Shinnô, Emperor Naruhito
Education: Attended Gakushuin University, 1952-1956
The Chrysanthemum Throne is the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. Records show the imperial line to be unbroken for fourteen centuries. Akihito was the 125th Emperor of Japan, a direct descendant of Japan’s first emperor Jimmu, circa 660 BC.
Japan is the only country in the world where the monarch holds the title of Emperor.
Akihito is the fifth child and first son of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. Akihito means “shining pinnacle of virtue,” and Tsugunomiya means “prince of the august succession and enlightened benevolence.”
He was the first Japanese crown prince to marry a commoner.
At least 2,500 dignitaries from 158 countries attended the Sokui-no-Rei enthronement ceremony in 1990. The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes and the event cost the Japanese people about $80 million (Y10 billion).
A trained ichthyologist who has discovered many species of goby fish, and also has a species of goby named after him.
1936 or 1937 - Is separated from his parents, in accordance with Japanese custom at the time, raised and educated by chamberlains and tutors.
1950 - The Imperial Household Agency (IHA) begins compiling a list of suitable candidates for marriage. By 1958 the list has about 800 names.
1952 - Officially invested with the title Kotaishi Denka, crown prince, and declared the rightful heir to the throne.
1953 - Represents Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and visits 13 other countries in Europe and North America.
January 7, 1989 - Accepts possession of the sacred sword, beads and mirror of the Sun-Goddess Amaterasu Omikami, upon the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito.
May 24, 1990 - In Tokyo during a banquet for visiting South Korean President Roh Tae Woo, Akihito expresses his “deepest regret” for the 35-year occupation of Korea (1910-1945).
November 12, 1990 - Ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne as the 125th Emperor of Japan, one year and 10 months after the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito.
October 1992 - State visit to China. It is the first visit to China by a Japanese monarch. Emperor Akihito says he deplores the Japanese treatment of the Chinese - before and during World War II - but does not apologize.
May 1998 - A state visit to London triggers demonstrations by British WWII prisoners-of-war demanding a formal apology and compensation for the treatment of POWs at the hands of Japanese soldiers.
June 16, 2000 - Akihito’s mother, Nagako Kuni, the Empress Dowager of Japan dies at age 97.
January 18, 2003 - Successfully undergoes surgery for prostate cancer that was diagnosed in December 2002.
September 6, 2006 - Birth of his first grandson, Prince Hisahito, the first male heir born into the imperial family in 40 years. The last male heir was born on November 30, 1965, Prince Akishino, the child’s father.
July 14-16, 2009 - Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit Hawaii. They do not visit Pearl Harbor, but lay a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific for veterans of both world wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
November 13, 2009 - Along with Empress Michiko, meets US President Barack Obama in Japan.
December 2010 - Admits to having hearing problems.
March 16, 2011 - Emperor Akihito delivers a pre-recorded televised speech in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. He urges the Japanese people to, “never give up hope, take care of themselves, and live strong for tomorrow.”
November 6, 2011 - Hospitalized after suffering from a fever and bronchitis.
February 18, 2012 - Undergoes successful coronary artery bypass surgery.
April 2013 - Contributes a 350-page paper on Gobiodei, a Japanese fish, to the “Fishes of Japan with Pictorial Keys to the Species.”
August 8, 2016 - Akihito delivers a televised speech about his health and his fears that, as he ages, it will affect his ability to fulfill his duties.
June 9, 2017 - Japan’s parliament passes a historic bill that will allow Emperor Akihito to become the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries.
December 1, 2017 - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that Emperor Akihito will stand down on April 30, 2019, becoming the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years. Crown Prince Naruhito, who has already assumed some of his father’s duties, will take on the role on May 1, 2019, becoming the 126th Emperor to ascend to Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne.
July 2018 - Emperor Akihito cancels public duties after suffering dizziness and nausea due to cerebral anemia.
April 30, 2019 - Emperor Akihito formally abdicates during a ceremony in Tokyo. He will now be known as Emperor Emeritus Akihito.
January 30, 2020 - The IHA says Akihito has recovered after briefly losing consciousness at his residence on January 29.
December 23, 2021 - Akihito turns 88, becoming the longest living emperor in Japan’s recorded history.
July 26, 2022 - Was diagnosed with heart failure, but his health has been improving after treatment, according to the IHA.
September 25, 2022 - Undergoes cataract and glaucoma surgery on his right eye.