Emperor of Japan from 1989 to 2019

Emperor Akihito (明仁天皇, Akihito-tennō, born 23 December 1933) (known simply as Akihito) is the former emperor of Japan. He reigned from 1989 to 2019. He was the 125th emperor of his line according to Japan's traditional order of succession.[1] He is head of the Imperial House of Japan.

Akihito in 2009
Emperor of Japan
Reign7 January 1989 – 30 April 2019
Enthronement12 November 1990
Prime Ministers
Born (1933-12-23) 23 December 1933 (age 90)
Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan
SpouseMichiko Shōda
IssueNaruhito, Emperor of Japan
Fumihito, Prince Akishino
Sayako, Princess Nori
Full name
Akihito (明仁)
HouseImperial House of Japan
FatherEmperor Shōwa
MotherEmpress Kōjun

Akihito became emperor after the death of his father in 1989, who was Emperor Shōwa. The current emperor's official reign name is Heisei (establishing peace).[2]



The Japanese government announced in December 2017 that Akihito would abdicate on 30 April 2019.[3] He then did so in a brief ceremony on that date.[4]

What the emperor does


The emperor has many duties and responsibilities. For example, he regularly

  • takes part in affairs of according to the Constitution of Japan.[5]
  • attends various events and ceremonies held at the Imperial Palace.[6]
  • attends ceremonies in Tokyo.[7]
  • makes appearances at a variety of ceremonies in various parts in Japan[8]
  • visits welfare facilities.[9]
  • visits regions where disasters hit[10]
  • visits other countries[11]
  • helps transmit the traditional culture of Japan[12]

As a personal interest, Akihito studies fish.[13]

Television broadcast


Akihito directly addressed his subjects in a television broadcast after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This was the first time any emperor used television in this way.[14]



In July 2022, Akihito was diagnosed with heart failure.[15]

Titles and styles

  • 23 December 1933 – 10 November 1952: His Imperial Highness The Prince Tsugu
  • 10 November 1952 – 7 January 1989: His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince of Japan
  • 7 January 1989 – 30 April 2019: His Majesty The Emperor of Japan
  • 1 May 2019 – present: His Majesty The Emperor Emeritus




The chrysanthemum symbol of the Japanese emperor and his family.
  1. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric et al. (2002). "Traditional order of Tennō" in Japan encyclopedia, pp. 962-963.
  2. Nussbaum, "Akihito" at p. 19.
  3. Enjoji, Kaori (December 1, 2017). "Japan Emperor Akihito to abdicate on April 30, 2019". CNN. Tokyo. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  4. McCurry, Justin (30 April 2019). "Japan's emperor Akihito abdicates with message of love". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  5. Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō), "Affairs of State"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ()
  6. Kunaicho, "Ceremonies in Imperial Palace"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  7. Kunaicho, "Progress in Tokyo"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  8. Kunaicho, "Progress around Japan"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  9. Kunaicho, "Visits to Welfare facilities"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  10. Kunaicho, "Visits to disaster-affected areas"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  11. Kunaicho, "Overseas visits"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  12. Kunaicho, "Transmitting traditional cultures to posterity"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  13. Kunaicho, "Studies"; retrieved 2011-10-18 ().
  14. Chancellor, Alexander. "The Japanese emperor's lesson for the British monarchy," The Guardian (UK). 17 March 2011; retrieved 2011-10-17.
  15. "Emperor Emeritus Akihito recovering after heart failure diagnosis". www.japantimes.co.jp. 26 July 2022. Retrieved 26 July 2022.

Other websites


  Media related to Emperor Akihito at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Emperor Shōwa
Emperor of Japan

Succeeded by