Japan’s Princess Aiko has now reached the age of majority in the country, so what does that mean for the Emperor’s only child?
In Japan, people become legal adults at the age of 20 instead of 18 in many Western countries. Nothing will change for Aiko constitutionally as she is not in the line of succession (women are not allowed to inherit the throne in Japan). So, she will not be taking up any seats in a Council of State like her counterpart, Princess Amalia, in the Netherlands later this month.
Aiko will have the traditional coming of age ceremonies for the Imperial Family inside the Imperial Palace on 5 December. Usually, female members are granted a new tiara when they reach the age of majority, but due to the continuing global health crisis, the Imperial Family chose not to spend money on a new diadem. Instead, Princess Aiko will wear the borrowed tiara of her paternal aunt, the former Princess Sayako (now Sayako Kuroda). It was repurposed to fit Aiko’s head better now that she will wear it for official events.
Where can we expect to see Princess Aiko now that she is a working member of the Imperial Family? With the continuing pandemic, she may appear via video for conferences like her cousins, aunt and parents. When things are back to normal, we can expect to see her regularly at official engagements and gala events.
As she is now a working member of the family, we will soon learn about her passions and what type of causes she plans to support. The Japanese Imperial Family are more secretive than most royal families regarding their members, but they show their passions through the engagements they undertake. For instance, her aunt, Crown Princess Kiko is fluent in sign language and is a skilled interpreter; she attends events each year for those with hearing impairments.
Following in the footsteps of her cousins, Princesses Mako and Kako, she may be tasked eventually with undertaking foreign visits on behalf of the Crown. Before leaving the Imperial Family upon her marriage to a commoner in 2021, Mako had travelled to Bhutan, Paraguay, Hungary, Brazil and Peru, among other countries, on official visits. Princess Kako has officially travelled to Austria and Hungary.
She will also now appear on the balcony of the Imperial Palace for the traditional New Year greeting given by her father, Emperor Naruhito. Depending on health restrictions at the time, we may see her on the balcony for the first time at the beginning of 2022, greeting the public.