Today: Thursday, 22 February 2024 year

Emperor Emeritus of Japan Akihito celebrates his 90th birthday.

Emperor Emeritus of Japan Akihito celebrates his 90th birthday.

Emperor Emeritus of Japan Akihito celebrates his 90th birthday on December 23; the Imperial Household Administration posted a special communique and schedule of congratulations on its website.

The Emperor Emeritus will receive congratulations from his family, department staff, and in the afternoon from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and representatives of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

The reign of now Emperor Emeritus Akihito lasted 31 years, during which time December 23 was a public holiday and a day off. He became the first emperor in 202 years to abdicate the throne: in 2019, he passed the Chrysanthemum Throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

Having left the throne, the honorary emperor does not lose interest in life. According to the Imperial Household Administration, “every morning he reads newspapers and watches news on television, follows events in the country and the world, and is deeply concerned about the lives of the people.”

Emperor Emeritus Akihito became the first whose reign began after the adoption of the 1947 constitution, which defined the emperor’s status as a “symbol of the nation” without mentioning his divine origin. According to public opinion polls taken at the end of his reign, more than 80% of Japanese believed that he had fulfilled this role. All the years of his reign, he tried to be no different from the people. Thus, even before his abdication, he and his wife, while walking along the sea coast near their country residence, enjoyed stopping to chat with local residents.

If his father, Emperor Hirohito, was surrounded by a huge retinue when traveling around the country, and he himself stood on a dais while communicating with his subjects, then Emperor Akihito did not hesitate to kneel next to his subjects while visiting evacuation points after natural disasters – so as not to look on them from top to bottom.

A romantic and rebellious aura surrounds the story of his marriage to the honorary Empress Michiko.

Having fallen in love on the tennis court with a girl Michiko of non-aristocratic origin, he withstood the resistance of the court and family and achieved his goal, declaring with an ultimatum that if he was not allowed to marry her, then he would never marry at all, which would put an end to the continuity of the oldest dynasty in the world – It is believed that it originates from the legendary Emperor Jimmu from 660 BC.

His address to the nation after the major earthquake and tsunami of 2011, which claimed 20 thousand lives, was just as unprecedented. This was his personal initiative. In a five-minute speech, the emperor addressed the victims with the hope that the missing would be found, that everything would be restored and life would return to normal. Never before had the Emperor of Japan addressed his subjects after a natural disaster.

Equally unexpected and unprecedented was his decision to transfer the throne to his son during his lifetime, which he announced in 2016. The last time a Japanese emperor abdicated the throne was 200 years earlier. Therefore, it took the government, experts, parliament and the imperial court almost three years to ensure that this wish could be legally realized.

During his years on the throne, Emperor Akihito considered the most important thing to be the peaceful nature of the era of his reign – Heisei – the establishment of peace. The desire for lasting peace and the memory of those killed in the war became the main motives of his activities. That is why he so often paid visits to the battlefields of World War II to personally honor the memory of those killed. Many believe that in this way the emperor took on part of the responsibility for his father, who had a direct bearing on decision-making during the Second World War.

When he was Emperor, Akihito expressed the opinion that the Japanese should always remember four historical dates: August 15, 1945, when his father Emperor Hirohito addressed the nation to announce the end of the war, August 6 and 9, 1945, when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and June 23, 1945, when the Battle of Okinawa ended, which claimed the lives of 100 thousand Japanese soldiers and almost a third of the prefecture’s civilian population.