Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Tokyo, Japan (4E) – Japan will have a new Emperor and will begin a new imperial period on May 1, 2019 when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne to replace his aging and frail father, Emperor Akihito, the 125th Japanese Emperor.
Akihito, 83, will abdicate the throne on April 30, becoming the first emperor in 200 years to take this erstwhile unthinkable step. He previously admitted that his age and health make it difficult for him to fulfil his imperial duties.
In a rare address last year, Akihito said he was “worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties” with his frail health. He evinced concern for the strain imposed on his family and Japanese society if he fell ill and died while on the throne.
The Imperial Household Council consisting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, lawmakers and members of Japan’s royal family convened to set the date of the abdication, and announced April 30 as that date.
Akihito’s abdication will mark the end of the Heisei Period that began on January 8, 1989, the day after the death of the Emperor Hirohito. In accordance with Japanese customs, Hirohito was posthumously renamed the 124th “Emperor Shōwa” on January 31, 1989.
Naruhito, whose full name is Kotaishi Naruhito Shinno, was born Feb. 23, 1960. He is the eldest son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, which makes him heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
Naruhito is first in line to become the 126th Emperor according to Japan’s traditional order of succession.
Naruhito is interested in water policy and water conservation. He plays the viola, having switched from violin. He enjoys jogging, hiking and mountaineering in his spare time.
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