Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan

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Crown Prince of Japan
Crown Prince Naruhito (2018).jpg
The Crown Prince in 2018
Born (1960-02-23) 23 February 1960 (age 58)
Imperial Household Agency Hospital, Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan
Masako Owada (m. 1993)
Issue Aiko, Princess Toshi
Full name
Naruhito (徳仁)
House Imperial House of Japan
Father Emperor Akihito
Mother Michiko Shōda

Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan (皇太子徳仁親王, Kōtaishi Naruhito Shinnō, born 23 February 1960) is the elder son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, which makes him the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Naruhito is expected to succeed his father as Emperor upon the latter's abdication on 30 April 2019. According to Japan's traditional order of succession, if he ascends the throne on that date, he will become the 126th emperor of the world's oldest monarchy. He will also become Japan's first emperor who was born after World War II.[1][2]

Early life

Naruhito in February 1961

Naruhito was born on 23 February 1960 at Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo. The prince later quipped, "I was born in a barn inside the moat".[3] His mother, Empress Michiko, is a convert to Shinto from Roman Catholicism. Prior to Naruhito's birth, the announcement about the-then Crown Prince Akihito's engagement and marriage to the then-Ms. Michiko Shōda had drawn opposition from traditionalist groups, because Shōda came from a Roman Catholic family.[4] Although Shōda was never baptized, she was educated in Catholic schools and seemed to share the faith of her parents. Rumors also speculated that Empress Kōjun had opposed the engagement. After the death of Naruhito's paternal-grandmother Empress Kōjun in 2000, Reuters reported that she was one of the strongest opponents of her son's marriage, and that in the 1960s, she had driven her daughter-in-law and grandchildren to depression by persistently accusing her of not being suitable for her son.[5]

Naruhito's childhood was reported to be happy, and he enjoyed such diverse hobbies as music, mountain climbing, and riding. He played with the children of the royal chamberlain, and he was a fan of the Yomiuri Giants in the Central League, his favorite player being No. 3-turned-team manager Shigeo Nagashima. One day, Naruhito found the remains of an ancient roadway on the palace grounds, sparking a lifelong fascination with the history of transportation, which would provide the subject of his bachelor's and master's degrees in history.[6] He later said, "I have had a keen interest in roads since childhood. On roads you can go to the unknown world. Since I have been leading a life where I have few chances to go out freely, roads are a precious bridge to the unknown world, so to speak."[7]

In August 1974, when the prince was 14, he was sent to Melbourne, Australia for a homestay. Naruhito's father, then the Crown Prince Akihito, had a positive experience there on a trip the year before and encouraged his son to go as well.[8] He stayed with the family of businessman Colin Harper.[9] He got along with his host brothers, riding around Point Lonsdale, playing violin and tennis, and climbing Uluru together.[10] Once he even played violin for dignitaries at a state dinner at Government House hosted by Governor-General Sir John Kerr.[11]


When Naruhito was four years old he was enrolled in the prestigious Gakushūin school system, where many of Japan's elite families and narikin (nouveau riche) send their children.[12] In senior high, Naruhito joined the geography club.[13]

Naruhito graduated from Gakushuin University in March 1982 with a Bachelor of Letters degree in History.[14] In July of the next year he entered a three-month intensive English course before entering Merton College, Oxford University, in the United Kingdom,[15] where he would study until 1986. Naruhito would not, however, submit his thesis A Study of Navigation and Traffic on the Upper Thames in the 18th Century until 1989.[16] He later revisited these years in his book, The Thames and I – a Memoir of Two Years at Oxford. Among his sightseeing destinations were some 21 historic pubs, including the Trout Inn and The White Hart.[17] Naruhito joined the Japan Society and the drama society, and was the honorary president of the karate and judo clubs.[18] He played inter-college tennis, seeding number three out of six on the Merton team,[18] and took golf lessons from a pro.[18] In his three years at Merton he also climbed the highest peaks in three of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom: Scotland's Ben Nevis, Wales' Snowdon and Scafell Pike in England.[19]

While at Oxford, Naruhito also was able to go sightseeing across Europe and meet many of its royalty, including the British royal family.[19] The relatively relaxed manners of the United Kingdom's royals amazed him: "Queen Elizabeth II, he noted with surprise, poured her own tea and served the sandwiches."[20] He also went skiing with Liechtenstein's Hans-Adam II, holidayed on Majorca in the Mediterranean with Juan Carlos I, and sailed with Norway's Harald and Sonja and Beatrix of the Netherlands.[21]

Upon his return to Japan, Naruhito would enroll once more in Gakushūin University to earn a Master of Humanities degree in History, successfully earning his degree in 1988.

Personal life

Marriage and family


Naruhito first met Masako Owada at a tea for Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo in November 1986,[22][18] during her studies at the University of Tokyo. The prince was immediately captivated by her,[23] and arranged for them to meet several times over the next few weeks.[24] Because of this, they were pursued relentlessly by the press throughout 1987.[25]

Despite the Imperial Household Agency's disapproval of Masako, and her attending Balliol College, Oxford, for the next two years, Naruhito remained interested in Masako. He would go on to propose to her three times before the Imperial Palace announced their engagement on 19 January 1993. The wedding took place on 9 June the same year at the Imperial Shinto Hall in Tokyo before 800 invited guests, including many of Europe's heads of state and royalty, and an estimated media audience of 500 million people around the world.

After the wedding, the couple moved into the Tōgū Palace, on the Akasaka Estate in Minato, Tokyo.

By the time of their marriage, Naruhito's grandfather Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) had died and so on 23 February 1991 Naruhito was invested as the Crown Prince with the title Prince Hiro (浩宮, Hiro-no-miya)[26]


The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have one daughter, Aiko, Princess Toshi (敬宮愛子内親王, Toshi-no-miya Aiko Naishinnō, born 1 December 2001 at Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo Imperial Palace).

Aiko's birth, which occurred more than eight years after their marriage, sparked lively debate in Japan about whether the Imperial Household Law should be changed from that of agnatic primogeniture to absolute cognatic primogeniture, which would allow a woman to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

In 2005, a government-appointed panel of experts recommended that the Imperial succession law be amended to permit Aiko to rule in her own right, and Prime Minister Junichirō Koizumi pledged his support. However, the proposal was dropped following the birth of Hisahito, the Emperor's first grandson and Aiko's first male cousin.

Hobbies and interests

Naruhito is interested in water policy and water conservation. In March 2003, in his capacity as honorary president of the Third World Water Forum, he delivered a speech at the forum's opening ceremony titled "Waterways Connecting Kyoto and Local Regions". Visiting Mexico in March 2006, he gave the keynote address at the opening ceremony for the Fourth World Water Forum, "Edo and Water Transport". And in December 2007, he gave a commemorative talk at the opening ceremony for the First Asia-Pacific Water Summit, "Humans and Water: From Japan to the Asia-Pacific Region".[27]

Prince Naruhito now plays the viola, having switched from violin because he thought the latter "too much of a leader, too prominent" to suit his musical and personal tastes.[28] He enjoys jogging, hiking, and mountaineering in his spare time.[11]

Crown Prince

Crown Prince Naruhito in Brazil, 18 June 2008

Crown Prince Naruhito is an honorary member of the World Commission on Water for the 21st century and patron of the Global Water Partnership, established by the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Swedish Agency of Development.

The prince was a patron of the Japanese Olympic Games Committee. On behalf of the crown, the prince carries out representative duties in Japan and abroad. The prince is also a supporter of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and in 2006 attended the 14th Nippon Jamboree, the Japanese national jamboree organized by the Boy Scout Association of Japan. The crown prince has also been an honorary vice-president of the Japanese Red Cross Society since 1994.[27]

The crown prince was the honorary president of Expo 2005.


The crown prince made an official visit to Bhutan in 1997. On his departure on 6 March he flew on Druk Air, the Bhutanese flag carrier, and was joined during a stopover in Calcutta by a number of backpackers.

On Monday 9 February 2009, Crown Prince Naruhito left Japan for Vietnam, the first visit to a communist nation for the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. During the week-long trip, he met President Nguyễn Minh Triết in Hanoi and visited the ancient city of Huế in central Vietnam, as well as Ho Chi Minh City in the south. The trip marked the 35th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

On 17 June 2014, he made a week-long official trip in Switzerland to commemorate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic ties. The trip at the invitation of the Switzerland government marked the first official visit to the country by the Crown Prince.


For two weeks in 2012, Naruhito temporarily took charge of his father's duties while the Emperor underwent and recovered from heart bypass surgery.[29]

Mt. Fuji Day

Naruhito's birthday was named 'Mt. Fuji Day' by Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures because of his reported love of the mountain.[30]

Akihito's pending abdication

On 1 December 2017, the government announced that the crown prince would be proclaimed emperor upon the abdication of his father, making this the first time in history that such a move would be officially made public in advance.[31]

October 2019 is reportedly being considered for the date of his enthronement ceremony.[32]

Selected works

  • 2006 – The Thames and I: A Memoir of Two Years at Oxford with Hugh Cortazzi. Folkestone, Kent: Global Oriental. ISBN 978-1-905246-06-9; OCLC 65196090
  • 1993 – Temuzu to tomoni: Eikoku no ninenkan (テムズとともに: 英国の二年間, OCLC 032395987)

Titles and styles

Styles of
Crown Prince Naruhito
Imperial Coat of Arms
Reference style His Imperial Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial Highness
Alternative style Sir
  • 23 February 1960 – 23 February 1991: His Imperial Highness The Prince Hiro
  • 23 February 1991 – present: His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince of Japan


Standard of the Crown Prince

National honours

Foreign honours

Honorary degree

Honorary positions


Patrilineal descent


  1. ^ Enjoji, Kaori (December 1, 2017). "Japan Emperor Akihito to abdicate on April 30, 2019". CNN. Tokyo. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  2. ^ Kyodo, Jiji (December 3, 2017). "Japan's publishers wait in suspense for next era name". The Japan Times. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Hills 2006, p. 69
  4. ^ Herbert P. Bix, "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan", New York, 2001, p. 661
  5. ^ "Japan's Dowager Empress Dead At 97". CBS News. 2000-06-16. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  6. ^ Hills 2006, p. 76
  7. ^ Hills 2006, p. 77
  8. ^ Hills 2006, p. 56
  9. ^ Hills 2006, p. 57
  10. ^ Hills 2006, pp. 60–61
  11. ^ a b Hills 2006, p. 60
  12. ^ Hills 2006, pp. 77–78
  13. ^ Hills 2006, p. 79
  14. ^ Hills 2006, p. 81
  15. ^ Hills 2006, pp. 142–143, 152
  16. ^ Hills 2006, pp. 144–145
  17. ^ Hills 2006, pp. 145–146
  18. ^ a b c d Hills 2006, p. 150
  19. ^ a b Hills 2006, p. 151
  20. ^ Hills 2006, p. 148
  21. ^ Hills 2006, pp. 151–152
  22. ^ Fitzpatrick, Beth Cooney (January 21, 2011). "Great Royal Weddings: Princess Masako and Crown Prince Naruhito". Stylelist. AOL. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  23. ^ Hills 2006, pp. 120–121
  24. ^ Hills 2006, p. 123
  25. ^ Hills 2006, p. 136
  26. ^ "Personal Histories of Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess". Archived from the original on 5 December 2002. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  27. ^ a b "Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess". Archived from the original on 5 December 2002. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  28. ^ Hills 2006, p. 72
  29. ^ "Japanese Emperor Akihito's heart surgery 'a success'". BBC News. 18 February 2012.
  30. ^ 「梅原猛・川勝平太『日本思想の古層』藤原書店、2017, p. 14」
  31. ^ "Emperor Akihito to abdicate on April 30, 2019".
  32. ^ "Enthronement ceremony for new emperor mulled for Oct. 2019". Mainichi Shimbun. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017. The government is mulling scheduling the enthronement ceremony for the next emperor for October 2019, months after Crown Prince Naruhito accedes to the Imperial Throne on May 1 that year upon his father Emperor Akihito's abdication, it has been learned.
  33. ^ a b "Promotion of Blood Donation". 7 July 2016.
  34. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1299.
  35. ^ Guillaume and Stephanie of Luxembourg’s religious wedding Ceremony, Prince Naruhito, having no Luxembourgish decoration, has worn the ribbon bar Archived 25 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. of Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
  36. ^ Archived 17 December 2012 at, Persondetaljer - Hans Kejserlige Højhed Naruhito
  37. ^ "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan".
  38. ^ "Filipino recipients of Japanese decorations and Japanese recipients of Philippine decorations". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.
  39. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  40. ^ "Boletín Oficial del Estado" (PDF).
  41. ^ "Wedding Of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria & Daniel Westling - Arrivals". Getty Images. June 19, 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  42. ^ "Glittering Royal Events Message Board: Coronation in Tonga". 15 June 2015. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  43. ^ Ito, Kazuya (July 4, 2015). "Crown Princess Masako completes first duties abroad in more than 2 years". The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  44. ^ "United Arab Emirates (Image)".
  45. ^ "Japanese crown prince visits UAE".
  46. ^


  • Hills, Ben (2006). Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne. Penguin. ISBN 1585425680.

External links

  • Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako at the Imperial Household Agency website
  • Press Conference by His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince on the Occasion of His Birthday (2017)
Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan
Born: 23 February 1960
Lines of succession
Line of succession to the Japanese throne
1st position
Succeeded by
The Prince Akishino
Japanese royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Japan
Order of precedence in Japan
Preceded by
The Emperor
HIH The Crown Prince
Succeeded by
The Prince Akishino
Retrieved from ",_Crown_Prince_of_Japan&oldid=869186896"
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