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His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito

His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito (明仁), tennō heika (天皇陛下), (born December 23, 1933) is the 125th, and current, Emperor (天皇 tennō) of Japan.

Akihito is the eldest son and the fifth child of the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) and the Empress Kojun (Nagako). He is also first cousin once removed of Princess Bangja, the last crown princess of Korea. Titled The Prince Tsugu (継宮 Tsugu-no-miya) as a child, he was raised and educated by his private tutors and then attended the Boy's Elementary and Secondary Departments of the Peers' School (Gakushuin) from 1940 to 1952. He was separated from his parents at the age of three.

During the American firebombing raids on Tokyo in March 1945, he and his younger brother, HIH The Prince Masahito (now Prince Hitachi), were evacuated from Tokyo. During the American occupation of Japan following World War II, Prince Akihito was tutored in English by Elizabeth Gray Vining. He briefly studied at the Department of Political Science at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, although he never received a degree. However, he later became an amateur specialist of ichthyology and published numerous papers and books about gobiid fishes. Although he was heir-apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne from the moment of his birth, his formal investiture as Crown Prince (Rittaishi-no-rei, 立太子の礼) was held at Imperial Palace on November 10, 1951.

His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito reads the  to the
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito reads the Speech from the Throne to the Japanese Diet

In June 1953, Crown Prince Akihito represented Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. On April 10, 1959, he married Miss Michiko Shoda (born October 24, 1934), the eldest daughter of Mr. Hidesaburo Shoda, the president and later honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Company. The marriage broke all precedents as the new Crown Princess was the first commoner to marry into the imperial family. Then-Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko made official visits to 37 countries. The Crown Prince assumed the throne after the death of his father on January 7, 1989, formally becoming the 125th Japanese monarch on November 12, 1990.

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 Michiko of Japan have made official visits to 18 countries, as well as all 47 Prefectures of Japan. The emperor and the empress have three children:

Despite being constrained by his constitutional position, he issued several wide ranging statements of remorse to Korea and China, 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.

During his life, he is never called by his first name, but referred to simply as "the emperor" (Tennō Heika). His era is entitled "Heisei" (平成). By custom, after his death Emperor Akihito will be referred to as the Heisei Emperor.

See also: Emperor of Japan.

External links

Preceded by:
Emperor of Japan
Succeeded by:
(current incumbent)

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