Akihito, also known as 天皇陛下明仁 (His Majesty, Emperor Akihito) is the 125th Emperor of Japan, holder of the Chrysanthemum Throne after succeeding his father, Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito, when he was alive).
Akihito has ruled the country since January 1989, after the death of his father and his era is known as Period Heisei (平成成) and, even, this will be the posthumous name of Akihito, according to the tradition of the Japanese monarchy.
When Akihito dies, he will be renamed and known as Emperor Heisei. However, according to a Japanese government announcement made in December 2017, Akihito will resign the throne in April 2019.
Previous life as Prince
Akihito was born at the Tokyo Imperial Palace in Tokyo City on December 23, 1933. Named Prince Tsugu (継宮 tsugu-no-miya) as a child, he was raised and educated by his private tutors and later participated in the primary and secondary departments of Gakushūin (school of the noble family) from 1940 to 1952.
Unlike his predecessors in the imperial family, Akihito did not receive a commission as an army officer at the request of his father, Hirohito. Thus, Akihito was the crown prince of the Chrysanthemum Throne from birth.
His formal endowment as Crown Prince (立太子礼 rittaishi-no-rei) was carried out Tokyo Imperial Palace on November 10, 1952.
In August 1957, he met Michiko Shōda on a tennis court in Karuizawa near Nagano. Eventually, the Imperial Household Council formally approved the Crown Prince's involvement with Michiko Shōda in 1958.
It was the first time that a commoner would marry a member of the Imperial Family. The engagement ceremony took place on January 14, 1959 and the wedding on April 10, 1959.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have three children: sons Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan and Fumihito, Prince Akishino and daughter Sayako, Princess Nori.
Official functions of the Emperor
Despite the pressure, Akihito made several statements of remorse to Asian countries. For the suffering thanks to the Japanese occupation, he expressed remorse for China made in April 1989.
He offered prayers and flowers at various memorials, honoring dead Japanese, American soldiers, Korean workers and local islanders. This was the first trip by a Japanese monarch to a World War II battlefield abroad.
Emperor's future abdication
In 2016, NHK reported that the Emperor intended to abdicate in favor of Crown Prince Naruhito. The reason would be his age and health. An abdication within the Imperial Family has not occurred since 1817.
Subsequently, the Emperor gave a televised speech, where he emphasized his advanced age and poor health; this was interpreted as an implication of his intention to abdicate.
In 2017, the law that would allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate was issued by the Japanese government office. Months later, the National Diet passed the law that allowed Akihito to abdicate. In this way, the government will organize the process of handing over the job to Crown Prince Naruhito.