When in February of this year 78-year-old Emperor Akihito had to undergo heart bypass surgery and, in particular, when it afterwards became clear that the Emperor was not recovering smoothly but had to repeatedly go back to the hospital to have fluid drained from his lungs, many spectators thought that the era of Akihito’s reign, the Heisei (“peace everywhere”) era, was nearing its end and that it was time for Crown Prince Naruhito to finally get ready to follow in his father´s footsteps. When Akihito, contrary to expectations, was able to attend the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee in London in May, and has succeeded in completely fulfilling his duties as emperor ever since, this came as a joyful surprise. Still, it is clear that after more than 23 years on the throne, the major part of Akihito’s reign is, in all probability, behind him.
Conservatives Panic at the Prospect of Female-Headed Imperial Family Branches
Last Tuesday, the third of a series of expert hearings took place, concerning the issue of whether Japanese princesses should be allowed in the future to keep their titles and create new family branches when they marry. (Currently, the Imperial House Law stipulates that female members who marry commoners must abandon their imperial status.)
The times are changing, and – taking in account the age of many of the monarchs worldwide – it is safe to assume that the coming years, we will see at least a few changes in the succession lines. Time to take a closer look at all those heirs, how they have prepared for their duties and how they are perceived among the public. This blog looks at the heir to the world’s oldest current monarchy, Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.
Crown Princess Masako of Japan turns 47 on 9 December. It’d be nice to be able to say that she’s celebrating her 47th birthday, but these days she doesn’t seem to have a lot to celebrate. A statement issued by palace doctors to mark the Princess’s birthday said that she was slowly recovering from the stress-induced illness that’s plagued her since 2002, identified by palace spokesmen as adjustment disorder, but that her physical and mental condition is still unstable. The palace has been saying the same thing for years – that she’s slowly recovering from a condition they identify as adjustment disorder, a condition that by definition is acute rather than chronic, not lasting for more than six months. Whatever she’s suffering from, it pretty clearly isn’t adjustment disorder.
Prince Hisahito of Akishino, the boy born to solve the Japanese succession crisis, turns four years old today. He is the youngest child of Prince Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito, and is the first male to be born into the imperial family since the birth of Prince Akishino in 1965.