Emperor Emeritus Akihito Fast Facts

(CNN) —  

Here’s a look at the life of Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan.

Birth date: December 23, 1933

Birth place: Tokyo, Japan

Birth name: Tsugunomiya Akihito

Father: Emperor Hirohito

Mother: Empress Nagako Kuni

Marriage: Michiko Shoda (April 10, 1959-present)

Children: Nori no miya Sayako Naishinnô, Princess Sayako (aka Princess Nori); Akishino no miya Fumihito Shinnô, Prince Akishino; Hiro no miya Naruhito Shinnô, Crown Prince Naruhito

Education: Attended Gakushuin University, 1952-1956

The Chrysanthemum Throne is the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. Records show the imperial line to be unbroken for fourteen centuries. Akihito was the 125th Emperor of Japan, a direct descendant of Japan’s first emperor Jimmu, circa 660 BC.

Japan is the only country in the world where the monarch holds the title of Emperor.

Akihito is the fifth child and first son of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. Akihito means “shining pinnacle of virtue,” and Tsugunomiya means “prince of the august succession and enlightened benevolence.”

He was the first Japanese crown prince to marry a commoner.

At least 2,500 dignitaries from 158 countries attended the Sokui-no-Rei enthronement ceremony in 1990. The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes and the event cost the Japanese people about $80 million (Y10 billion).

1936 or 1937 – Is separated from his parents, in accordance with Japanese custom at the time, raised and educated by chamberlains and tutors.

1950 – The Imperial Household Agency begins compiling a list of suitable candidates for marriage. By 1958 the list has about 800 names.

1952 – Officially invested with the title Kotaishi Denka, crown prince, and declared the rightful heir to the throne.

1953 – Represents Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and visits thirteen other countries in Europe and North America.

January 7, 1989 – Accepts possession of the sacred sword, beads and mirror of the Sun-Goddess Amaterasu Omikami, upon the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito.

May 24, 1990 – In Tokyo during a banquet for visiting South Korean President Roh Tae Woo, Akihito expressed his “deepest regret” for the 35-year occupation of Korea (1910-1945).

November 12, 1990 – Ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne as the 125th Emperor of Japan, one year and 10 months after the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito.

October 1992 – State visit to China. It is the first visit to China by a Japanese monarch. Emperor Akihito says he deplores the Japanese treatment of the Chinese – before and during World War II – but does not apologize.

May 1998 – A state visit to London triggers demonstrations by British WWII prisoners-of-war demanding a formal apology and compensation for the treatment of POWs at the hands of Japanese soldiers.

June 16, 2000 – Akihito’s mother, Nagako Kuni, the Empress Dowager of Japan dies at age 97.

January 18, 2003 – Successfully undergoes surgery for prostate cancer that was diagnosed in December 2002.

September 6, 2006 – Birth of his first grandson, Prince Hisahito, the first male heir born into the imperial family in 40 years. The last male heir was born on November 30, 1965, Prince Akishino, the child’s father.

July 14-16, 2009 – Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit Hawaii. They do not visit Pearl Harbor, but lay a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific for veterans of both world wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

November 13, 2009 – Along with Empress Michiko, meets US President Barack Obama in Japan.

December 2010 – Admits to having hearing problems.

March 16, 2011 – Emperor Akihito delivers a pre-recorded televised speech in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. He urges the Japanese people to, “never give up hope, take care of themselves, and live strong for tomorrow.”

November 6, 2011 – Hospitalized after suffering from a fever and bronchitis.

February 18, 2012 – Undergoes successful coronary artery bypass surgery.

April 2013 – Contributes a 350-page paper on Gobiodei, a Japanese fish, to the “Fishes of Japan with Pictorial Keys to the Species.”

August 8, 2016 – Akihito delivers a televised speech about his health and his fears that, as he ages, it will affect his ability to fulfill his duties.

June 9, 2017 – Japan’s parliament passes a historic bill that will allow Emperor Akihito to become the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries.

December 1, 2017 – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that Emperor Akihito will stand down on April 30, 2019, becoming the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years. Crown Prince Naruhito, who has already assumed some of his father’s duties, will take on the role on May 1, 2019, becoming the 126th Emperor to ascend to Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne.

July 2018 – Emperor Akihito cancels public duties after suffering dizziness and nausea due to cerebral anemia.

April 30, 2019 – Emperor Akihito formally abdicates during a ceremony in Tokyo. He will now be known as Emperor Emeritus Akihito.

January 30, 2020 – The Imperial Household Agency says Akihito has recovered after briefly losing consciousness at his residence on January 29.

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Progress: New emperor penguin colonies spotted in Antarctica, and more

1. United States

Tens of thousands of formerly incarcerated people – also known as returning citizens – have had their voting rights restored by an executive order of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Iowa was the last state in the U.S. that still banned all people with felony convictions from voting.

Gov. Kim Reynolds grants Iowans who were incarcerated with felony convictions the right to vote on Aug. 5, 2020.

The order restores voting rights for returning citizens who have discharged their sentences, including any parole or probation. Restitution payments related to felony convictions do not have to be fully paid back to vote. About 52,000 Iowans – including 10% of the state’s African American adults – could not vote in the state because of past felony convictions, according to a 2016 report by The Sentencing Project. After years advocating for the restoration of voting rights, the NAACP will now focus on educating and registering returning citizens ahead of the Nov. 3 election. (Des Moines Register, The Guardian)

2. United States

A record-breaking 130 Black women are running for Congress in 2020, including 117 House candidates and 13 aiming for the Senate. This figure is up from 87 candidates in 2018, and includes women who may have already lost their local primaries. Black women make up 4.3% of Congress, but nearly 8% of the total U.S. population. Historically, most Black women have been elected to majority-Black districts, but many of this cycle’s candidates are running for office in predominantly white or mixed areas. “People are becoming more comfortable with seeing different kinds of people in Congress. You don’t know what it looks like to have powerful Black women in Congress until you see powerful Black women in Congress,” said Pam Keith, a Navy veteran and attorney who won the Democratic primary for a Florida congressional seat. (Reuters)

3. Scotland

By using excess wind power to produce eco-friendly hydrogen fuel, the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland have become an unlikely leader in the renewable energy field. The islands have powered themselves with wind farms and tidal turbines for years. In fact, these methods were so successful that local electrical grids couldn’t handle the amount of power being generated every day. To keep the turbines running, officials have started redirecting the surplus energy into various green energy projects, namely producing carbon-neutral hydrogen fuel. Although hydrogen fuel has zero carbon emissions, it’s typically made through fossil fuel extraction. Orkadians are focused on the use of electric currents to separate hydrogen from water molecules, a process that allows them to store additional energy and pave the way for scalable technologies that could reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. (CNN, Orkney Islands Council)

4. Antarctica

With new satellite images of Antarctica’s coastline, scientists have identified 11 new emperor penguin colonies, 20% more than researchers thought existed on the continent. The 61 confirmed colonies hold about 270,000 pairs of breeding penguins. Emperor penguins prefer to breed on sea ice, making them vulnerable to rising global temperatures. 

Copernicus Sentinel-2/ESA/AP/File

A patch of guano captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite helped scientists find new emperor penguin colonies.

“Whilst it’s good news that we’ve found these new colonies,” said Phil Trathan, who has studied penguins for the last three decades, “the breeding sites are all in locations where recent [climate change] model projections suggest emperors will decline.” The remote and frigid breeding sites make penguins difficult to study, but the images from the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission have provided researchers with an important benchmark to monitor the species. (Science Daily)

5. Bougainville

A record number of women are throwing their hat into the first general election since Bougainville voted to seek full independence from Papua New Guinea in a nonbinding referendum held in December last year. Representatives from the autonomous region of Bougainville must work with the PNG government to negotiate the terms of the separation.

Calvin Caspar/The Bougainvillean/Reuters

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Arawa, Bougainville, during the presidential elections on Aug. 12, 2020. This year, 43 women are running for office in Bougainville.

PNG is one of only three countries with no women in parliament, but Bougainville has made steady gains in women’s political participation since its decadeslong civil war ended in 1998. Women have been leaders in the peacemaking process and three seats in the House of Representatives are reserved for women. In 2015, Bougainville made headlines when a woman won an open seat for the first time. This year, 14 women are vying for open seats, 27 are aiming for reserved spots, and two are running for president. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)


With the Kingdom of Tonga’s signoff, the International Labor Organization’s convention against the worst forms of child labor has become the first United Nations labor treaty to achieve universal ratification. Around the world, the number of child laborers has declined by 94 million since 2000, but progress has slowed in recent years. Many advocates are concerned that the pandemic will push more families into poverty, and more children into forced labor. First introduced in 1999 and now supported by all 187 member states, the convention aims to protect children from sexual exploitation, armed conflict, and other illicit work. Universal ratification “reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labor … have no place in our society,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a statement. (Reuters)

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