Here’s a look at the life of Emperor Naruhito of Japan, the 126th Emperor to ascend to Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne.
Birth date: February 23, 1960
Birth place: Tokyo, Japan
Previous name: Hironomiya Naruhito
Father: Emperor Emeritus Akihito
Mother: Empress Emerita Michiko
Marriage: Masako Owada (June 9, 1993-present)
Children: Princess Aiko
Education: Gakushuin University, B.A., 1982; Attended Merton College at the University of Oxford, 1983-1985; Attended Gakushuin University for doctoral studies
His grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, was Japan’s longest-reigning monarch, and ruled during World War II. During Hirohito’s reign, Japanese forces occupied Manchuria, Korea and large parts of southeast Asia.
Prior to Akihito, the last emperor to abdicate was Emperor Kokaku in 1817 in the later part of the Edo Period, and the royal male line is unbroken, records show, for at least 14 centuries.
February 23, 1991 - Is formally invested as the crown prince after his grandfather’s death in January 1989.
1992 - Receives a commission for a visiting research fellow position at the Gakushuin University Museum of History.
February 2012 - When Akihito undergoes heart bypass surgery, Naruhito temporarily fills in for the emperor during official functions.
February 23, 2015 - During a press conference marking his 55th birthday, Naruhito comments on Japan’s controversial role in World War II: “I myself did not experience the war…but I think that it is important today, when memories of the war are fading, to look back humbly on the past and correctly pass on the tragic experiences and history Japan pursued from the generation which experienced the war to those without direct knowledge.”
June 9, 2017 - Japan’s parliament passes a historic bill that will allow Akihito to become the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries.
April 1, 2019 - The Japanese government announces that Naruhito’s reign will be known as the “Reiwa” era. The era, whose name includes the character for “harmony,” will formally begin once the new Emperor is crowned on May 1.
April 19, 2019 - The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will pay a state visit to Japan in late May, becoming Naruhito’s first official foreign guests.
May 1, 2019 - Formally ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Naruhito uses his first remarks following the ceremony to acknowledge the assumption of emperor as an “important responsibility,” and pays tribute to his father’s legacy.
October 22, 2019 - Naruhito officially proclaims his enthronement, in a ritual-bound, centuries-old ceremony attended by more than a hundred dignitaries from around the world.