Japan’s Prince Hisahito of Akishino, 12, is due to undertake his first overseas trip to Bhutan alongside his parents, Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko, in August.
This will mark the second-in-line to the Japanese throne’s first overseas venture. It’s a perfect choice as the Bhutanese and Japanese royals have strong, friendly relations and members of the Imperial Family have visited the country before. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema also visited Japan in 2011.
His parents have been to Bhutan before – in 1997 – and his older sister, Princess Mako, travelled to the Asian kingdom for an official visit in 2017.
His other older sister, Princess Kako, is set to pay her first official foreign visit in September when she will travel to Austria and Hungary to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the institution of diplomatic relations between Japan and the two nations.
Prince Hisahito moved to second in line to the throne on 1 May when his uncle, then-Crown Prince Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne after the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito (now Emperor Emeritus Akihito).
At the moment, Japan operates under agnatic primogeniture, meaning only men can ascend the throne. The Japanese Imperial Family has more female members than male members meaning that the line of succession only has three people: 53-year-old Prince Fumihito (the younger brother of the Emperor), Prince Hisahito of Akishino (the 12-year-old nephew of the Emperor), and 83-year-old Prince Masahito (the uncle of the Emperor).
Under current Imperial Household Law, not only can females not ascend the throne, they must renounce their titles and leave the Imperial Family if they marry a commoner. As a result, the number of Imperial Household members keeps dwindling.
Prince Hisahito’s elder sister, Princess Mako is engaged to Kei Komuro. The wedding has been postponed, but once it takes place, she will have to renounce her title and leave the Imperial Family.