The Japanese Imperial Family has released three new photos to mark the new year. The images show the senior members of the family: Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito, his wife Crown Princess Masako and their daughter Aiko, Princess Toshi, the Emperor’s second son Fumihito, Prince Akishino, his wife Kiko, Princess Akishino and their children Princess Mako of Akishino and Prince Hisahito of Akishino. Their other daughter Princess Kako of Akishino is missing from the photos but is studying abroad.
The photos are accompanied by a three-minute video taking during the photo shoot and shows the family talking amongst themselves as the pictures are being taken. They also pass around objects they admire.
The photos do not differ greatly from those taken last year. They appear to be taken in the same room with the same setup.
Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Naruhito on 30 April 2019 at the age of 85. After Emperor Akihito’s abdication, he will be called joko and Empress Michiko will be known as jokogo. Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako have just one child, Aiko, Princess Toshi, who cannot succeed her father as the law does not allow the succession of females. However, a poll from last year shows that the majority of Japanese would support a Japan Empress in her own right. Crown Prince Naruhito is followed in the line of succession by his younger brother, Fumihito, Prince Akishino and his son Prince Hisahito of Akishino. After Prince Hisahito comes the 82-year-old Masahito, Prince Hitachi who has no children. He is last in the line of succession.
Princess Mako is set to leave the Imperial Family upon her marriage on 4 November 2018 to Kei Komuro. As a result of her marriage, the Princess will lose her royal status and title as Kei Komuro is a commoner.