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The next crown prince to the Japanese throne – Fumihito, Prince Akishino

As Emperor Akihito is to abdicate at the end of this month, we are taking a look at his younger son, Fumihito, Prince Akishino who will be Japan’s new crown prince.

Fumihito was born on 30 November 1965 in Imperial Household Agency Hospital at Tokyo Imperial Palace as the second child and younger son of the then Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko. He has an older brother, Crown Prince Naruhito (soon to be Emperor) and younger sister, Sayako Kuroda (formerly Sayako, Princess Nori).

Fumihito in the stroller with his younger sister. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan/CC-A 4.0

His personal title as a young member of the Imperial Family was Prince Aya; the Imperial Household explains on their website that it was “conferred in accordance with the Imperial Family’s tradition of appellation.”

His primary and secondary schooling took place at schools of the Gakushuin in Tokyo, where he also played tennis. He later studied law, beginning in 1984, at Gakushuin University, and four years later, he graduated from the Department of Political Studies. He next studied abroad in the UK from 1988 to 1990 focusing on graduate studies in zoology at the University of Oxford. Fumihito returned to Japan and received his PhD in ornithology from The Graduate University for Advanced Studies in 1996 after researching in China and Indonesia. He was also credited for introducing tilapia to Thailand.

His Imperial Highness’s grandfather Emperor Hirohito died in 1989, and Fumihito became second in line to the throne after his older brother, Naruhito.

While studying at Gakushuin University, Fumihito met Kiko Kawashima – a daughter of a professor of economics at the university. Their engagement was announced by the Imperial House Council on 12 September 1989, and they had their official engagement ceremony (Nosai no Gi) on 12 January 1990. They then married on 29 June 1990. This created Fumihito’s own branch of the Imperial Family, and he was conferred the title of Prince Akishino by his father, the Emperor.

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Prince Askishino and Princess Kako’s first child, Princess Mako was born on 23 October 1991; she was followed by Princess Kako on 29 December 1994. Both daughters were born at the same hospital as their father decades previously.

Twelve years later, Princess Kiko gave birth to their only son, Prince Hisahito on 6 September 2006 at Tokyo’s Aiiku Hospital. He is the only grandson of Emperor Akihito and will one day be Emperor himself. Upon his grandfather’s abdication on 30 April, he will move to second in line to the Japanese throne. Japan only allows men to ascend the throne meaning the Japanese Imperial Family will only have three members able to ascend the throne after Naruhito – one of which is 83-year-old Masahito, Prince Hitachi.

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Prince Askishino and Princess Kako undertake various duties on behalf of the Emperor, and these duties will only increase as Askishino becomes heir to the throne.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites.