Akihito Biography

Akihito, the former emperor of Japan, is widely recognized as an ideal leader and a man of peace. Serving as the 125th emperor from 1989 to 2019, he quickly established diplomatic relations with China and other Asian nations upon ascending the throne. Despite his royal background, Akihito has been praised by world leaders and the media for his humility. During the devastating Tsunami, his inspiring speech brought hope to countless individuals affected by the catastrophe. Beyond his imperial duties, Akihito is also a respected scholar, with numerous research papers on molecular biology and specialized studies on the taxonomy of the Gobiidae fish published in scientific journals.

Quick Facts

  • Age: 90 Years, 90 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Michiko (m. 1959), father: Hirohito, mother: Empress Ko-jun, siblings: Atsuko Ikeda, Kazuko Takatsukasa, Masahito, Sachiko, Shigeko Higashikuni, Takako Shimazu, children: Crown Prince Naruhito, Fumihito, Naruhito, Prince Akishino, Sayako Kuroda, Yoshiki Kuroda
  • Born Country: Japan
  • Leaders: Emperors & Kings
  • Height: 1.65 m
  • City: Tokyo, Japan
  • More Facts: education – Gakushuin University, awards – 2009 Nishan-e-Pakistan Golden Pheasant Award Order of the Three Stars

Childhood & Early Life

Akihito was born on December 23, 1933, in Tokyo, Japan, to Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. He was originally named Prince Tsugu, but the name was changed later. He was the eldest son and the fifth born child of his parents.

Akihito was initially taught by private tutors. Later on, he attended ‘Peers School,’ where he studied for 12 years, between 1940 and 1952. It is also said that he left Japan for a brief period to learn English from American author Elizabeth Gray Vining.

In 1952, Akihito went to ‘Gakushuin University’ to pursue his degree. However, he did not complete his studies. The same year, he was crowned as the prince at the ‘Tokyo Royal Palace.’


After he was officially crowned the prince, Akihito attended the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II as a representative of Japan in 1953. He also visited many American and European nations during this period.

Akihito succeeded his father Hirohito as the emperor of Japan in 1989 after the latter’s death. He not only became the 125th person to be crowned as the supreme leader, but also inherited prized possessions of the royal family. These possessions included mirror of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu Omikami, the royal sword, and beads.

Merely three months after the demise of his father, Akihito came up with statements of apologies to all those Asian nations which had suffered because of Japan. The first nation to receive Akihito’s goodwill gesture was China.

In 2011, after a devastating earthquake that left Japan in shambles, Akihito addressed his countrymen with an inspiring televised speech in a bid to provide hope and spread positivity.

Akihito became an honorary member of the esteemed ‘Linnean Society of London’ in 1980. He was also a research associate at the ‘Australian Museum’ and ‘The Research Institute for Natural Science of Argentina.’

Japan’s bicameral legislature (National Diet) enacted a special law in June 2017 that would allow Akihito to abdicate. On December 1, 2017, Akihito formalized his intentions, and on April 30, 2019, he stepped down as Japan’s emperor and passed the throne to Crown Prince Naruhito.

Major Works

Other than managing his official duties, Akihito also took a keen interest in marine biology. Popular scientific journals, such as ‘Japanese Journal of Ichthyology’ and ‘Gene’ had published several papers written by Akihito.

Awards & Achievements

Akihito received several awards in his long tenure as the emperor of Japan. Notable among these are ‘Collar and Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum,’ ‘Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure,’ and ‘The Golden Medal of Merit of the Japanese Red Cross.’

Personal Life & Legacy

Akihito got married to Michiko Shoda, the daughter of a milling company owner, in 1959. The couple has three children – two sons named Naruhito and Fumihito, and a daughter named Sayako Kuroda. Though he is blessed with few grandchildren, Akihito and the rest of the nation were particularly excited about the birth of his grandson Hisahito. Hisahito is the first male child born in the royal family after a long period of 41 years. The birth of the young prince took place in 2006.

In 2011, Akihito was admitted to a hospital due to frequent complaints of fever and bronchitis. The very next year, he underwent a bypass heart surgery.


He is the first emperor in the history of Japan to marry the daughter of a commoner. Later on, he broke many traditions that his predecessors followed.

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