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Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan

Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan

Heir to the japanese imperial throne
The basics
Date of birth Tokyo, Japan
Spouse: Masako, Crown Princess of Japan
Children: Aiko, Princess Toshi
Father: Akihito
Sister(s): Sayako Kuroda
Mother: Empress Michiko
Brother(s): Fumihito Prince Akishino
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary, Order of the Crown, Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (Portugal)‎, Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of St. Olav, Order of Merit of the State of Qatar, Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria, Order of Leopold, Order of the Elephant, Order of the Redeemer, Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Order of Christ, Order of Charles III, Order of Sikatuna, Royal Order of the Seraphim, Order of Zayed
Education Merton College, Gakushuin University
Authority NNDB id Library of congress id ISNI id VIAF id
The details

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.

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". 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. 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.

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. 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."

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. He stayed with the family of businessman Colin Harper. He got along with his host brothers, riding around Point Lonsdale, playing violin and tennis, and climbing Uluru together. Once he even played violin for dignitaries at a state dinner at Government House hosted by Governor-General Sir John Kerr.


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. In senior high, Naruhito joined the geography club.

Naruhito graduated from Gakushuin University in March 1982 with a Bachelor of Letters degree in History. In July of the next year he entered a three-month intensive English course before entering Merton College, Oxford University, in the United Kingdom, 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. 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. Naruhito joined the Japan Society and the drama society, and was the honorary president of the karate and judo clubs. He played inter-college tennis, seeding number three out of six on the Merton team, and took golf lessons from a pro. 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.

While at Oxford, Naruhito also was able to go sightseeing across Europe and meet many of its royalty, including the British royal family. 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." 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.

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, during her studies at the University of Tokyo. The prince was immediately captivated by her, and arranged for them to meet several times over the next few weeks. Because of this, they were pursued relentlessly by the press throughout 1987.

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)


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".

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. He enjoys jogging, hiking, and mountaineering in his spare time.

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.

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.

Mt. Fuji Day

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

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.

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

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

  • 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

  • Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum (23 February 1980)
  • The Golden Medal of Merit of the Japanese Red Cross
  • The Golden Medal of Honorary Member of the Japanese Red Cross

Foreign honours

Order of the Seraphim
Order of Charles III
  • Austria: Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the Republic of Austria (1999)
  • Bahrain: Collar of the Order of al-Khalifa
  • Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
  • Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant (16/11/2004)
  • Greece: Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer
  • Hungary: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (2000)
  • Italy: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
  • Luxembourg: Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau(2017)
  • Malaysia: Honorary Grand Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm (2012)
  • Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown (1991)
  • Norway: Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav (26/03/2001)
  • Philippines: Grand Collar of the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Raja (3 December 2002)
  • Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (02/12/1993)
  • Qatar: Necklace of Merit
  • Spain: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (08/11/2008)
  • Sweden: Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (26/03/2007)
  • Tonga:
    • Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Crown of Tonga (01/08/2008)
    • Coronation Medal of H.M. King George Tupou V (01/08/2008)
    • Coronation Medal of H.M. King Tupou VI (04/07/2015)
  • United Arab Emirates: Member First Class of the Order of Zayed (23/01/1995)

Honorary degree

  • University of Oxford

Honorary positions

  • Honorary Vice-President of the Japanese Red Cross Society
  • Honorary President of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation
  • Golden Pheasant Award of the Scout Association of Japan (1989)


Patrilineal descent

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