Akihito (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: By linking the ancient traditions of Japan to the modern age, Emperor Akihito, Japan’s nonpolitical head of state, symbolizes his nation’s commitment to democracy while Japan learns from its militaristic past.
The news of Akihito’s birth was a time of great celebration among the Japanese people. Within court circles, there was considerable pressure on Emperor Hirohito to take a concubine because his wife, the former Princess Nagako Kuni, had provided only four daughters. Had a son not been born, the military may have made the lack of a male heir the official excuse to depose Hirohito because of the emperor’s opposition to Japan’s increasing militarism at home and abroad. Japanese tradition demanded a continuous, unbroken line of male heirs succeeding the founder of Japan’s imperial dynasty, the sun goddess Amaterasu.
Named Akihito (“shining pinnacle of virtue”) Tsugunomiya (“prince of the august succession and enlightened benevolence”) during a name-bestowing ceremony (Gomeimei Shiki) on December 29, 1933, Japan’s crown prince was bathed in sanctified water in a bathtub hewn from rare and costly woods. Akihito’s naming document was placed in a lacquered casket wrapped in cloth of gold and presented at the Imperial Shrine on the grounds of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace to bestow the blessings of the gods on the new prince.
For his third...
(The entire section is 2000 words.)
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