Facts about Akihito

Akihito is 90 years old
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Best known as: Emperor of Japan, 1989-2019


Akihito Biography

Akihito was Emperor of Japan from 1989, when his father Hirohito died, until 2019, when Akihito abdicated, giving the throne over to his son, Naruhito.

Emperor Akihito was the 125th emperor of Japan, and his royal lineage has been traced back to 660 B.C. He was the first Japanese emperor to be the official head of state rather than a figure of divinity — Hirohito renounced claims of divinity after the defeat of World War II.

After a childhood of wartime, Akihito was educated in public schools as well as trained for imperial life. He graduated from Gakushuin University in 1956, then made something of a stir when he married Michiko Shoda, a Roman Catholic with no ties to the aristocracy.

During his 30 years of official duties Akihito was known as a peace promoting symbol of post-war Japan. He was also an accomplished cellist and an expert in ichthyology (the study of fish). Akihito has a goby named after him, the species Exyrias akihito.

Emperor Akihito made a rare televised speech in 2016 in which he announced his plans to turn the throne over to his son. A special allowance was granted by the Japanese Parliament in order for him to abdicate.


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