Akihito (明仁, Japanese: [akiꜜçi̥to]; English: /ˌækiˈht/ (listen) or /ˌɑːk-/; born 23 December 1933) is a member of the Imperial House of Japan who reigned as the 125th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, from 7 January 1989 until 30 April 2019. He presided over the Heisei era, Heisei being an expression of achieving peace worldwide.[1]

Daijō Tennō
The Emperor in 2016
Emperor of Japan
Reign7 January 1989 – 30 April 2019
Enthronement12 November 1990
Prime Ministers
BornTsugunomiya (継宮) Akihito (明仁)
(1933-12-23) 23 December 1933 (age 87)
Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo City, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
(now Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan)
(m. 1959)
Era name and dates
Heisei: 8 January 1989 – 30 April 2019
HouseImperial House of Japan
FatherEmperor Shōwa
MotherEmpress Kōjun

Born in the Empire of Japan in 1933, Akihito is the first son of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun. During the Second World War, he moved out of Tokyo with his classmates, and remained in Nikkō until 1945. In 1952, his Coming-of-Age ceremony and investiture as crown prince were held, and he began to undertake official duties in his capacity as crown prince.[2] The next year, he made his first journey overseas and represented Japan at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. He completed his university education in 1956. In 1959, he married Roman Catholic Michiko Shōda; it was first imperial wedding to be televised in Japan, drawing about 15 million viewers.[3] The couple have three children: Naruhito, Fumihito, and Sayako.

Upon the death of his father Emperor Showa, in 1989, he succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne. His enthronement ceremony followed in 1990. He has made efforts to bring the imperial family closer to the Japanese people, and has made official visits to all forty-seven prefectures of Japan and to many of the remote islands of Japan. He also has a keen interest in natural life and its conservation, and Japanese and world history.[2]

Akihito abdicated in 2019, citing his advanced age and declining health,[4] and became emperor emeritus. He was succeeded by his elder son, Naruhito.