Who’s who of the Japanese Imperial Family

By 外務省, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

As the Japanese State Visit to the UK begins, here is your breakdown of who’s who of the Japanese Imperial Family.

Emperor Naruhito

David Parry/PA Media Assignments/CC/Flickr, Foreign Office

Naruhito was born on 23 February 1960 to Emperor Akihito and Empress Masako. Growing up, he was prepared for his future role as a monarch and attended prestigious schools in Japan. He also studied in the United Kingdom and wrote a book, The Thames and I – a Memoir of Two Years at Oxford, about his experience at university. He married Masako Owada in 1993 after spending many years courting her. They have one daughter, Princess Aiko. He became the Emperor of Japan upon his father’s shocking abdication in 2019. His reign is considered the Reiwa era in Japan. 

Empress Masako

empress masako

By TICAD7 Photographs -, CC0 via Flickr

Masako Owada was born on 9 December 1963 to Hisashi Owada (a diplomat and former judge on the International Court of Justice) and Yumiko Egashira. Masako spent some of her childhood in Russia and the United States. She graduated from high school in Boston and obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from the prestigious Ivy League, Harvard University. Masako planned to be a diplomat like her father and was one of three women to pass the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s entrance examination in 1986. Masako originally did not want to abandon her career and freedom, but she eventually accepted Crown Prince Naruhito’s proposal in 1992. They married in 1993 and have one daughter. Her time in the Imperial Family has not been easy and she remained out of the spotlight for many years due to the stress of the Imperial Family and the lack of providing a male heir. Masako became the Empress of Japan in 2019 when her husband ascended the throne and she has begun appearing more in public as her health improves. 

Princess Aiko

(Screenshot/Fair Use)

Princess Aiko is the only child of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. She was born on 1 December 2001 to the then Crown Prince Couple. Even though she is the child of the Emperor, she is not entitled to inherit the throne. Japan does not allow women to reign in their own right and they must leave the Imperial Family upon marriage. Princess Aiko has been educated in Japan and the United Kingdom. She currently works for the Red Cross. 

Crown Prince Fumihito

Photo by Ian Jones/CC/Flickr/Foreign Office

Fumihito was born to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on 30 November 1965. He was educated in Japan and the UK. He married a Japanese commoner, Kiko Kawashima, in 1990. He and Kiko have three children: Mako Komuro, Princess Kako and Prince Hisahito. He has been the heir to the throne since his father’s abdication in 2019 as his older brother only has one daughter. 

Crown Princess Kiko

Photo by Ian Jones/CC/Flickr/Foreign Office

Kiko Kawashima was born on 11 September 1966 to Tatsuhiko Kawashima and Kazuyo Sugimoto. She spent part of her childhood in the United States and Austria due to her father’s job. She moved back to Japan in 1972 and later obtained a PhD in humanities. She married Fumihito, the Crown Prince of Japan in 1990, and they have three children. Crown Princess Kiko regularly attends engagements on behalf of the Crown.

Princess Kako

princess kako japan

By Kounosu1 – This file has been extracted from another file, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Princess Kako is the second child of the Crown Prince Couple, born on 29 December 1994. She studied in Japan and the United Kingdom and regularly undertakes engagements on behalf of her uncle. Like her cousin, she is not in the line of succession. She will have to renounce her titles and place in the Imperial House if she ever marries, like her older sister, the former Princess Mako, who now lives in New York. 

Prince Hisahito

By 外務省, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Prince Hisahito was born on 6 September 2006 to Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko during the reign of his grandfather, Emperor Akihito. He is the only grandson of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, and due to Japan’s succession laws, the only grandchild in the line of succession. The Prince will come of age later this year. He is second in line to the throne after his father. 

Emperor Emeritus Akihito

emperor empress japan

State Department photo by William Ng/Public domain

Akihito was born on 23 December 1933 to Emperor Showa and Empress Kojun. He came to the throne after the death of his father in 1989. Akihito married Michiko Shōda in 1959; they have three children: Emperor Naruhito, Crown Prince Fumihito and Sayako Kuroda (formerly Princess Nori). He shocked Japan and the world when he announced his intent to abdicate, and a special law had to be created to allow for his abdication in 2019. Akihito was the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in over 200 years. He is now known as the Emperor Emeritus. 

Empress Emerita Michiko 

By Robert Viñas/Malacanang Photo Bureau – Presidential Museum and Library PH Flickr, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Michiko Shōda was born into a Roman Catholic family on 20 October 1934 in Tokyo. She married Crown Prince Akihito in 1959 and converted to the Shinto religion (the religion of the Imperial Family). She has three children and is known as the Empress Emerita after her husband’s abdication. 

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About the Author

Brittani Barger
Brittani is from the United States and has been researching, writing and reporting on the royals for over a decade. Successfully gaining exclusives and interviews with royals across the globe, Brittani left her role as an editor for another news site to help bring you Royal News. She's been seen on BBC World, WION News and other news programs to discuss the royal families.

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