His Late Imperial Majesty Hirohito, the 124th Emperor of Japan, Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Rising Sun, Order of the Sacred Treasure, Order of the Seraphim (Sweden), Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain), Grand Cross Order of St. Olav (Norway), KG (Great Britain), hon. field marshal (Great Britain), was born on 29 April 1901 at the Aoyama Detached Palace, Tokyo the eldest son of the then-Crown Prince Yoshihito (later Emperor Taishō) and Princess Sadako (later Empress Teimei). Originally titled Michi-no-miya (Prince Michi) he was soon separated from his parents and entrusted to the care of Count Kawamura Sumiyoshi, a retired admiral. Upon Kawamura's death in 1903, Prince Michi entered the Imperial Palace with Marquis Kido Takamasa and later Kinasku Maruo, chamberlain of the Aoyama Palace, in charge of his affairs. The Prince attended the then-boys' elementary department of the Gakushuin from April 1908 to April 1914. He continued his education with private tutors at the Crown Prince's special school (Togu-gogakumonsho) at the Akasaka Detached Palace until February 1921. He became heir apparent on December 9, 1912. At the same time became a lieutenant in the Imperial Army and sub-lieutenant (1st class) in the Imperial Navy and received the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order Chrysanthemum. On 16 November 1916, he received his formal investiture as Crown Prince. Crown Prince Hirohito was promoted to captain and lieutenant (31 October 1916); major and lieutenant commander (31 October 1920); lieutenant colonel and commander (31 October 1923); and colonel and captain in the navy (31 October 1924). In January 1919, he became engaged to his distant cousin, Princess Nagako (see Empress Kojun), the eldest daughter of Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi. In March 1921 Crown Prince Hirohito, accompanied by Prince Kan'in Kotohito, his political advisor, Chinda Stuemi, and his aide-de-camp, Nara Takeji, embarked upon a sixth month of Europe. The trip marked the first time a Japanese crown prince had been abroad. Due to Emperor Taishō's illness, he became regent (sensho) on November 25, 1921. The Prince Regent received the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav (Norway) on 26 September 1922. On 26 January, he married Princess Nagako and had seven children. Upon Emperor Taisho's death (25 December 1926), the Prince Regent Hirohito became emperor and the new era was named Shōwa, "radiant peace." The Sokui Rei Seiden no Gi (Great Feast of Enthronement) was held in Kyoto, the ancient capital, on 10 November 1928. In a 1929 official visit to Tokyo, HRH the Duke of Gloucester (on behalf of his father King George V) invested the new Emperor with the Most Noble Order of the Garter and appointed him an honorary field marshal in the British Army.
The Emperor's precise role in the Pacific War (1931-1945) remains a matter of controversy. Under the Meiji Constitution, the emperor was sovereign and supreme commander (daigensui) of the Japanese armed forces. Despite the sweeping language of that constitution, the emperor had no political power in his own right. Instead, he appears to have presided over a complex web of political institutions (including the cabinet, the Imperial Diet, the Privy Council, the army and navy general staffs) and extra-constitutional boides (such as the genro or council of elder statesmen)with little ability to either make policy or veto policies undertaken in his name. In his capacity as supreme commander, Emperor Shōwa appeared in uniform in public, reviewed troops, issue imperial rescripts (which were actually written by the government and the high command), and decorated soldiers and sailors.
Recent historiography as well as contemporary diary entry by officials in the Imperial Court suggests that Emperor Shōwa held to a very strict (almost pedantic) conception of his position as a constitutional monarch under the Meiji Constitution. Privately, he opposed the Manchurian Incident, the expansion of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident into a full-scale war against China, the Tripartite Pact, and ultimately the decision to wage war on the United States. However, he received detailed briefings from civilian and military leaders about all major diplomatic and military operations. The Emperor took no decisive action to stop the slide toward war. At several key junctures various members of the Imperial Family, politicians with close ties to the Court and even less-hawkish military officials urged the emperor to intervene in the political process. Following the Kwantung Army invasion of Manchuria (September 1931), for example, Prince Chichibu advised that the only way to deal with the threat of fascism would be for the Emperor to assume personal control of the government even if it meant suspending the constitution. The Emperor refused; apparently causing a rift between the brothers that lasted until the end of the Pacific War. During the war, he resisted calls by the secret peace faction (whose members including former prime minister Konoe Fumimaro, Prince Takamatsu, Prince Mikasa, Prince Higashikuni, and Prince Asaka) to remove Tojo Hideki as prime minister. Moreover, after Tojo's eventual resignation (18 July 1944), neither the Emperor nor his lord privy seal, Marquis Kido Kiochi, explicitly instructed the new prime minister, General Kosio Kuniaki, to seek an armistice with the Allies. Ultimately, the Emperor did break the deadlock within the Supreme Council for the Direction of War between the peace faction (Prime Minister Admiral Suzuki Kantarō, Foreign Minister Tōgō Shigemori) and the hard-liners (Army Chief of Staff General Umezu Yoshijirō, War Minister General Anami Korechika, and Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Toyoda Soemu) over acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration (14 August 1945). In doing so, however, the Emperor acted on the explicit invitation of the prime minister.
After Japan's surrender, Emperor Shōwa remained on the throne despite some calls for his abdication and indictment as a war criminal. He more or less cooperated with the American occupation. At the insistence of SCAP, he assisted the process of de-mystifying the imperial institution by renouncing his so-called divinity in his New Year's 1946 imperial rescript, embarking on a series of national tours to meet ordinary Japanese, and adopting less-formal language in his public statements. In February 1946, he privately urged Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru to accept a SCAP model draft constitution as the basis for a revised Japanese constitution. The postwar Constitution (in effect from 3 May 1947) changed the emperor's role from "sovereign" and "supreme commander" to a "symbol of the state." It explicitly deprived the emperor of political authority and removed the monarchy from any actual participation in the government.
During the postwar period, Emperor Shōwa devoted much of his free time to the study of marine biology. He was author of twelve books including, The Opisthobranchia of Sagami Bay and Some Hydrozoans of the Amakusa Islands. Following the Japanese capture of Singapore (9-15 February 1942) King George VI ordered the Emperor's name removed from the rolls of the Most Noble Order of the Garter and his appointment as a British field marshal (hon.) revoked. Queen Elizabeth II formally restored Emperor Shōwa's British honors during his controversial 1971 state visit to Great Britain. During the same tour, the Emperor and Empress made official visits to Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Belgium, as well an informal stop-over in Alaska. In September 1975, the Emperor and Empress Nagako paid a state visit to the United States. Emperor Shōwa died of duodenal cancer on 7 January 1989. Representatives of 124 countries, including US President George Bush, French President Francois Mitterand, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, and HM King Baudouin of the Belgians, attended the state funeral on 24 February. Emperor Shōwa's remains were interred in the Musashino Imperial Mausoleum, next to those of the Emperor Taishō.
Her Late Imperial Majesty NAGAKO, Empress of Japan and later Empress Dowager, Order of the Precious Crown, Order of the Sacred Treasure, was the consort of the Emperor Shōwa and mother of the current Emperor. She was born in Tokyo on 6 March 1903, the third child and eldest daughter of Field Marshal Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi (1873-1929) and his wife, Chikako (1879-1956), the seventh daughter of Prince Shimazu Tadayoshi [peer]. The Kuni no miya were a cadet branch of the Imperial Family established by Prince Asahiko, the twelfth son of Prince Fushimi Kuniye and an adopted son of Emperor Ninko, in 1871. The Fushimi no miya house descended from Sadatsune Shinnō (1425-1474), the brother of the Emperor Go-Hanazono (reigned 1429-1465). Her father, Prince Kuniyoshi, who succeeded to the Kuni no miya title in 1891, was a half-brother of Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko, Prince Kaya Kuninori, Prince Nashimoto Morimasa, Prince Kuni Taka and Prince Asaka Yasuhiko. Her maternal grandfather was the last daimyo of Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture). Princess Kuni Nagako (Kuni-no-miya Nagako Nyoō) entered the girls' elementary department of the Gakushuin in April 1909 and advanced to the secondary department in March 1915. The future empress had been a childhood playmate of Prince Michi (the future Emperor Shōwa). During the funeral ceremonies for Emperor Meiji, the young princess attracted the eye of the Empress Dowager Haruko (see Empress Shoken below). On 14 January 1914, the Empress Sadako invited a number of aristocratic and royal girls to tea at the Concubines' Pavilion at the Imperial Palace, while Crown Prince Hirohito cast his eye upon them, hidden behind a sliding screen. He selected the princess as his future bride. Princess Nagako received six years of instruction in Chinese and Japanese literature, French, calligraphy, poetry composition, and the intricacies of court ettiquete under the direction of seven tutors. During that period, she and crown prince only met nine times, and never in private.
The potential engagement caused a great deal of controversy within the Imperial Court and the genro (most of whom were former Choshu samurai). The bride-to-be was of the blood royal. However, she did not come from one of the Go-sekke –the five noble houses of Fujiwara descent (Konoe, Nijō, Takatsukasa, Ichijo, and Kujo), which had provided the principal consorts of the emperors for centuries. More importantly, Field Marshal Prince Yamagata Aritomo [peer], the senior member of the genro and leader of the Choshu clan, opposed the engagement since Prince Nagako's mother was the daughter of the last daimyo of Satsuma. Instead, he wanted the crown prince to select a bride from the Choshu clan. Yamagata, the principal architect of the Imperial Japanese Army and arguably the most powerful man in late Meiji and Taishō Japan, vehemently opposed the engagement for seven years. In 1919, Yamagata arranged the publication of a medical journal article, which alleged a history of color-blindness in the of the princess's mother, the Shimazu of Satsuma. This alleged hereditary malady, he argued, would damage the flawlessness of the Imperial bloodline. Prominent newspapers printed the allegations and Yamagata demanded that the Imperial Household Ministry annul the engagement. Prince Kuni vowed to commit suicide and kill Nagako if the Imperial Household Ministry cancelled the engagement. He allegedly enlisted the aid of nationalistic Tokyo gangsters to thwart Yamagata. The gangsters organized large rallies in Tokyo, which denounced the plots against Princess Nagako as disloyalty to the throne. Emperor Taishō intervened on Nagako's behalf by dismissing the article on color blindness. "I hear," the emperor told Yamagata, "that even science is fallible." The Imperial Household Ministry announced the engagement on the evening of 19 June 1921.
The wedding of the Crown Prince and Princess Nagako had been scheduled for the autumn of 1923, but was postponed due to the earthquake in September which destroyed half of Tokyo and cost 10,000 lives. The wedding finally took place on 24 January 1924 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. On 25 December 1926, she became empress when Emperor Shōwa ascended the throne. On 10 November 1928, she took part in the Sokui Rei Seiden no Gi (the Great Feast of the Enthronement) at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto; she became the first empress (consort) enthroned. As empress, her primary function as to produce a male heir, since the 1887 Imperial Household Law restricted the succession to imperial male descendants in the male line. The Empress's first four children were girls: Princess Teru (b. 10 September 1929), Princess Hisa (b. 10 September 1927, d. 8 March 1928), Princess Taka (b. 30 September 1929), and Princess Yori (b. 7 March 1931). By 1931, anxiety about the imperial succession led chamberlains and court officials to openly suggest the Emperor conceive a child by a concubine. He refused. The Empress gave birth to a son, Prince Akihito (now the Emperor) on 23 December 1933, followed by second son, Prince Masahito (now Prince Hitachi), on 28 November 1935. A fifth daughter, Princess Suga, followed on 2 March 1939.
During the American bombing of Tokyo in the later stages of the Second World War, the Emperor and Empress remained at the Imperial Palace. The imperial children went to the countryside to escape the bombing. In 1946, the Empress adopted a more public role as part of the GHQ and the postwar Japanese government's efforts to demystify the monarchy. During the American occupation, she visited orphans, bereaved families and war veterans. Empress Nagako was the honorary president of the Japan Red Cross from 10 January 1947 until 7 January 1989. She was an accomplished painter, calligrapher and poet. She painted Japanese still life and landscapes under the pen name To-en ("Peach Orchard"). In April 1974, she published a collection of waka poems entitled Akebono-shu.
The Empress strongly opposed the engagement of Crown Prince Akihito to Miss Shoda Michiko in October 1958. Although Shoda came from wealthy and prominent family, she was a commoner. The 1887 Imperial Household Law and centuries of tradition dictated that imperial princes chose their brides from among other branches of the Imperial Family, the Go-sekke, or high-ranking kuge and daimyo families. The 1947 Imperial Household Law removed this restriction on eligible brides and restricted membership in the Imperial Family to Emperor Shōwa's immediate family and those of his three brothers. The 1947 Constitution formally abolished the Meiji era peerage –the kazuko. Nonetheless, the Empress and a circle of former princesses and aristocratic women [which included former Princess Nashimoto Itsuko, former Princess Kitashirakawa Sachiko, and Mrs. Matsudaira Tsuneo (Nobuko), the mother of Princess Chichibu] could not accept this unprecedented and unbalanced marriage. Nonetheless, the Imperial Household Council unanimously approved the engagement of the Crown Prince and Miss Shoda on 17 November 1958; the wedding took place on 10 April 1959. In the early to mid 1960s, newspapers and magazines carried stories about an alleged strained relationship between the Empress and the new Crown Princess.
The Shōwa Emperor and Empress made state visits to Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, West Germany, Belgium and Denmark (28 September to 14 October 1971). This European tour marked the first time a reigning Japanese emperor and empress had left the country. The imperial couple made a state visit to the United States from 30 September to 13 October 1975. The Empress injured her lower back at the Nasu Imperial Villa on 17 July 1977. Lower back injuries and other physical ailments limited her public engagements and forced her to use a wheelchair. The Empress's last domestic tour (other than visits to Imperial villas) was to the shore of Lake Ianawashiro in Fukushima Prefecture on 26 September 1984. Her last public engagement coincided with the eighty-sixth birthday celebrations of Empress Shōwa on 29 April 1987.
Majesty became empress dowager on 7 January 1989. Failing health prevented her
from attending the funeral ceremonies for the Emperor Shōwa. The Empress
Dowager spent the last decade of her life largely confined to the Fukiage Omiya
Residence on the grounds of the Imperial Palace, except for twice yearly trips
to the Hayama Imperial Villa. In January 1995, she became the longest-lived
empress or dowager empress since the Nara period. The Empress Dowager died at
the Fukiage Omiya Residence on 16 June 2000 at the age of 97. At the time of
her death, she had been an empress for seventy-three years and 173 days. On 10
July, the Emperor granted his mother the posthumous name "Kojun." The
character for "Ko," which symbolizes fragrance or beauty, is a
reference to the late Empress's artistic name (Toen or "Peace
Orchard"). The character for "Jun" refers to the Empress's
kind-hearted personality. The Empress Kojun was entombed next to Emperor Shōwa in
the Musashino Imperial Mausoleum on 25 July 2000.
Deceased Sisters of HIM the Emperor
The late Mrs. Higashikuni Morihiro (Shigeko), formerly Her Imperial Highness Princess Teru (Teru-no-miya Shigeko Naishinnō), 2 December 1925 to 13 October 1943, and later Her Imperial Highness Princess Higashikuni Morihiro (Higashikuni-no-miya Shigeko-ōhi), 13 October 1943 to 14 October 1947, was the eldest daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Nagako. Princess Teru was born on 6 December 1925 at the Akasaka Detached Palace (then the Crown Prince's residence) in Tokyo. She entered the girls elementary department of the Gakushuin in 1932 and completed the secondary department in 1942. On 13 October 1943, Princess Teru married Prince Higashikuni Morihiro (1916-1969), the eldest son of Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko and his consort, the former Princess Yasu (Nobuko), the ninth daughter of Emperor Meiji. The bride and groom were first cousins once removed. Prince and Princess Higashikuni Morihiro had issue: three sons, Nubuhiko (born 1944), Naohiko (born 1948), and Hidehiko (born 1949, later adopted into the Mibu family under the name "Motohiro"), and two daughters, Fumiko (born 1945) and Yuko (born 1950). The members of the Higashikuni-no-miya family became commoners on 14 October 1947, along with the other collateral branches of the Imperial Family. Mrs. Higashikuni died of cancer at the Imperial Household Agency Hospital on 23 July 1961.
The late Mrs. Takatsukasa Toshimichi (Kazuko), formerly Her Imperial Highness Princess Taka (Taka-no-miya Kazuko Naishinnō), was born on 30 September 1929, the third daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Nagako. In March 1948, she graduated the senior course of the Gakushuin. On 20 May 1950, Princess Taka married Mr. Takatsukasa Toshimichi (1923-1966), the only son of former Prince Takatsukasa Nubusake [peer]. Mr. and Mrs. Takatsukasa Toshimichi were without issue, but they adopted a son, Naotake, from the Matsudaira family. Takatsukasa Toshimichi died in Tokyo on 20 January 1966 under suspicious circumstances. [Takatsukasa frequented the Isribi Club in Tokyo's Ginza district. He and Maeda Michiko, the club hostess, were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in the latter's Ginza apartment.] Mrs. Takatsukasa served as lady custodian and chief priestess of the Grand Ise Shrine from 1974 to 1988. Mrs. Takatsukasa, the former Prince Taka, died of heart failure on 28 May 1989.
Deceased Uncles and Aunt of HM the Emperor
His Late Imperial Highness Prince Chichibu (Chichibu-no-miya Yasuhito Shinnō), Supreme Order of Chrysanthemum, Order of Rising Sun, Order of Sacred Treasure, GCVO (Great Britain), Order of the Seraphim (Sweden), was born on 25 June 1902, the second son of the then-Crown Prince Yoshihito (later Emperor Taishō) and Crown Princess Sadako. Originally titled Atsu-no-miya Yasuhito (Prince Atsu), the prince attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Peers' School along with his older brother Prince Michi-no-miya (Hirohito). He entered the Military Academy in 1918 and graduated in 1922. Later that year Emperor Taishō granted his second son the title Chichibu-no-miya and the authorization to start a new princely house. Prince Chichibu received his commission as a sub-lieutenant in October 1922 and an assignment to the First Imperial Guard Division. In 1925, the Prince went to Great Britain to study at Oxford, but returned to Japan in January 1927 following the death of Emperor Taishō. While in Great Britain King George V with decorated Prince Chichibu the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. On 28 September 1928, the Prince married Matsudaira Setsuko, the daughter of Ambassador Matsudaira Yasuhito and niece of Viscount Matsudaira Morio. Prince and Princess Chichibu were without issue. Prince Chichibu became a lieutenant in 1925 and a captain in 1930. He studied at the Military Staff College from 1928 to 1930. The Prince was commanding officer of the 31st Infantry Division in 1935 and joined the Army General Staff Office in Tokyo the following year. During the February 26, 1936 Incident some coup plotters mentioned Prince Chichibu (then third in line to the throne) as a possible replacement for Emperor Shōwa. He and Princess Chichibu represented Japan at the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom (12 May 1937). Prince Chichibu was honorary president of the British-Japan Association and the Swedish Society of Japan. Both he and his wife were fluent in English. The prince retired from active duty at the rank of colonel in 1940. During World War II, Prince Chichibu retired from public life, due to tuberculosis. He died on 24 January 1953 at Kunegenuma.
Her Late Imperial Highness Princess Chichibu (Chichibu-no-miya Setsuko Shinnō-hi), Order of the Crown, GBE (Great Britain), GCMG (Great Britain), Order of the Seraphim (Sweden), was the consort of the late Prince Chichibu. Matsudaira Setsuko was born on 9 September 1909 in Walton on the Thames, England, the first daughter of Ambassador Matsudaira Tsuneo (1877-1949) and his wife, the former Nabeshima Nubuko. Although technically born a commoner, both of her parents came from distinguished aristocratic families with close ties to the Imperial Family. The Matsudaira of Aizu was a cadet branch of the Tokugawa clan (see Tokugawa). Her father, Matsudaira Tsuneo, had a distinguished career in government, serving as Japan's ambassador to the United States (1924) and the United Kingdom (1928), and later Imperial Household Minister (1936-45, 1946-47). Her paternal grandfather, Matsudaira Katamori, was the last daimyo of Aizu. The princess's uncle, Viscount Matsudaira Morio, was a member of the House of Peers. Her maternal grandfather was Marquis Nabeshima Naohiro. Her mother's elder sister, Itsuko (1882-1976), married Prince Nashimoto (Morimasa), an uncle of Empress Nagako. In 1925, her father became Japan's ambassador to the United States and Setsuko attended the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC (1925-1928). Upon the Matsudaira family's return to Japan, the Empress Sadako chose Setsuko to marry her second son, Prince Chichibu. She married the Prince on 28 September 1928, after her uncle, Viscount Matsudaira Morio, formally adopted her. [This step removed the status incongruity between the prince and his bride, by making Setsuko the adopted daughter of a viscount.] Prince and Princess Chichibu made several trips abroad. After the Prince's death, Princess Chichibu became president of the Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, honorary president of the Britain-Japan Society and of the Sweden-Japan Society, and an honorary vice president of the Japan Red Cross. The Princess, who was fluent in English, made several semi-official visits to Great Britain and Sweden. King Gustav IV Adolph of Sweden invested her with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Seraphim on 8 April 1969. On 23 July1962, she became an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. On 9 October 1978, HRH the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowden (on behalf of the Queen) invested Princess Chichibu as an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint John. In 1991, the princess wrote published her memoirs Gin No Bonhonnierrie. Princess Chichibu died of heart failure on 25 August 1995. After the princess's death, her memoirs appeared in English under the title The Silver Drum: an Imperial Memoir.
His Late Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu (Takamatsu-no-miya Nobuhito Shinnō), Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Rising Sun, Order of the Supreme Treasure, Kt. Order of Seraphim (Sweden), Grand Cordon Order of St. Olav (Norway) and Order of Carol I (Romania), was born on 3 January 1905, the third son of Crown Prince Yoshihito (Emperor Taishō) and Crown Princess Sadako. Originally titled Teru-no-miya Nobuhito Shinnō, he attended the boys' elementary department of the Gakushuin along with his older brothers. Following the death of Prince Arisugawa (Takehito) without an heir on 6 July 1913, Emperor Taishō granted Prince Nobuhito the title Takamatsu-no-miya (which had been the original title of the Arisugawa-no-miya house). After finishing the middle school course in the Peers' School in 1921, Prince Takamatsu entered the Naval Academy, graduating in 1925. He became a sub-lieutenant (2nd Class) in December 1925 and took up duties aboard the battleship Fuso. He rose to sub-lieutenant (1st Class) in 1927. He studied at the Torpedo School (1925-1926), the Naval Aviation School at Kasumigaura (1927), and the Naval Gunnery School (1928). Prince Takamatsu married Tokugawa Kikuko, the second daughter of Prince Tokugawa Yoshihisa [peer] and a granddaughter of Prince Arisugawa Takehito, on 4 February 1930. In April 1930, Prince and Princess Takamatsu embarked on a world tour, which included, which included visits to Great Britain and Norway. They returned the courtesies shown by King George V of Great Britain in sending a mission to Japan to present the Order of the Garter to the Emperor. On 1 September 1930, King Haakon VII of Norway invested Prince Takamatsu with the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav. Prince Takamatsu graduated from the Imperial Naval Staff College in 1936. In 1938, he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander and received a posting to the Naval General Staff Office. During the Second World War, he held various staff positions in the Imperial Navy and rose to the rank of captain. Prince Takamatsu expressed grave reservations about the Tojo government and Imperial General Headquarters' decision to wage war on the United States. The Prince urged Emperor Shōwa to sue for peace after the Japanese naval defeat at the Battle of Midway (1942), which apparently caused a rift between the royal brothers. Prince Takamatsu joined his uncles Prince Higashikuni and Prince Asaka and former Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro in seeking the ouster of Prime Minister Tojo Hideki in 1944. After the war Prince Takamatsu became the honorary president of various charitable, cultural and athletic organizations including: the Japan Fine Arts Society, the Denmark-Japan Society, the France-Japan Society, the Tofu Society for the Welfare of Leprosy Patients, the Sericulture Association, the Japan Basketball Association, and the Saise Welfare Society. He also served as a patron of the Japan Red Cross Society. After the promulgation of the 1947 Imperial Household Law, Prince Takamatsu was an active member of the Imperial Household Council. Prince Takamatsu died of lung cancer on 3 February 1987 at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo. In 1991, Princess Takamatsu and an aide discovered a twenty-volume diary, written in Prince Takamatsu's own hand between 1934 and 1947. The diary, which the magazine Chou Koron obtained, revealed the late prince had opposed the Kwantung Army's incursions in Manchuria (September 1931) and the expansion of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (July 1937) into a full-scale war against China.
His Late Majesty Yoshihito, the 123rd Emperor of Japan, Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Rising Sun, Order of the Sacred Crown, Kt. Order of the Black Eagle (Prussia), the Order of Annuziata (Italy), Order of the Elephant (Denmark), the Order of St. Hubert (Bavaria), Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain), KG (Great Britain), hon. field marshal (Great Britain), was born on August 31, 1879 at the Aoyama Palace, the third son of Emperor Meiji. His biological mother was Yanagiwara Naruko, an imperial concubine (although Empress Shoken was officially regarded as his mother). He was originally titled Haru-no-miya Yoshihito Shinnō (Prince Haru). Within three weeks of his birth, Prince Haru was diagnosed as suffering from meningitis. Upon his recovery, the young prince was entrusted to the care of Prince Nakayama Tadayasu [peer], in whose house he lived until the age of seven. Tutors taught the prince and selected classmates at a special school, the Tōgō-gogakumonsho, at the Aoyama Detached Palace. In September 1887 entered the elementary department of the Peers' School, but returned to the Tōgō-gogakumonsho (relocated to the Akasaka Detached Palace) before finishing the middle school course in 1893. Yoshihito received his formal investiture as Crown Prince on 3 November 1888. On May 25, 1900 Crown Prince Yoshihito married Sadako, daughter of Prince Kujo Mitchitaka [peer] and) and had four sons: Michi-no-miya Hirohito (see Emperor Shōwa), Atsu-no-miya Yasuhito (see Prince Chichibu), Teru-no-miya Nobuhito (see Prince Takamatsu), and Sumi-no-miya Takahito (see Prince Mikasa). In 1906, the Crown Prince commissioned an extensive renovation of his official residence, the Akasaka Detached Palace (currently Japan's state guesthouse) in a lavish European rococo style. In October 1907, the Crown Prince toured Korea (Chosen), accompanied by Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, General Katsura Taro, and Prince Arisugawa Taruhito. This was the first time the heir apparent to the throne had ever left Japan. Crown Prince Yoshihito succeeded his father as emperor in July 1912 and adopted the reign name Taishō ("great righteousness"). Emperor Taishō apparently suffered from various neurological problems throughout his live. By the late 1910s, these maladies made it all but impossible for him to carry out public functions. He retired from public life and his eldest son, Crown Prince Hirohito, officially became Regent on November 25, 1921. Emperor Taishō suffered a fatal stroke on December 25, 1926 at the imperial villa at Hayama. After two days of funeral rights on February 6 and 7, the Taishō emperor's remains were buried in the Musashino Imperial Mausoleum, to the west of Tokyo.
Her Late Imperial Majesty Sadako, Empress of Japan and later Empress Dowager, Order of the Crown, Order of the Sacred Treasure, was the consort of Emperor Taishō. Born on 25 June 1884 the daughter of Prince Kujo Mitchitaka [peer], she married then-Crown Prince Yoshihito on 25 May 1900. She was the first official wife of a Crown Prince or Emperor to give birth to the heir apparent since 1750. She became Empress upon her husband's ascension to the throne in July 1912. After Emperor Taishō's death, she became Empress Dowager. Although she officially retired from public life following her husband's death, Empress Dowager Sadako remained a strong influence on the Imperial Court. As both empress and empress dowager, she was the patron of the Japan Red Cross Society. Empress Dowager Sadako died on 17 May 1951 and Emperor Shōwa granted her the posthumous title of Teimei ("enlightened constancy"). She was buried next to her husband, Emperor Taishō, at the Musashino Imperial Mausoleum.
His Late Imperial Majesty Mutsohito, the 122nd Emperor of Japan, Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, Order of the Rising Sun, Order of the Sacred Treasure, KG (Great Britain), Kt. Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain), Order of the Elephant (Denmark), Order of St. Andrew (Russia), Order of St. Hubert (Bavaria), Order of Black Eagle (Prussia), Order of the Seraphim (Sweden) was the great grandfather of the current Emperor. The Meiji emperor presided over an era of unprecedented change in both Japan's domestic politics and in his country's relations with the rest of the world. Mutsohito was born on 3 November 1852 in Kyoto, the son of Emperor Komei (1846-1867) and Nakayama Yoshiko (1835-1907), a lady-in-waiting and the second daughter of Nakayama Tadayasu (1809-1888). Emperor Komei (Osahito) had six children, two sons and four daughters; none except the future emperor survived the age of four. Originally titled Sachi-no-miya Mutsohito Shinnō (Prince Sachi), the future emperor was brought up in seclusion in the Imperial Palace at Kyoto, as was customary as the time. Upon the death of Komei on January 9, 1867, the fifteen-year-old Mutsohito became Emperor (tennō) of Japan, taking the reign name Meiji or "enlightened rule." That same year, the last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1931), relinquished his hereditary office and handed over the reigns of government to the emperor in Kyoto. The following year the Imperial Court moved from Kyoto, the ancient capital, to Edo (renamed Tokyo), which had been the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate. Following the Meiji Restoration, Japan undertook a forty-year period of modernization and industrialization. Emperor Meiji married Haruko (1850-1914), the daughter of Ichijo Tadaka, on September 8, 1867; she was styled kōgo (empress consort). The couple had no children. The Emperor fathered at least fifteen children (five sons and ten daughters) by four officials concubines: (1) Lady Mitsuko, (2) Lady Natsuko (b. 1856, d. 1873), (3) Lady Kotoko (b. 1855, d. 1944), (4) Sono Sachiko (b. 1867, d. 1947) and (5) Lady Yanagiwara Naruko (b. 1855, d. 1943). Only five of his children, four princesses and the future Emperor Taishō, lived to adulthood. Emperor Meiji died in 30 July 30 and his remains interred in Kyoto's Momoyama Imperial Mausoleum on 14 September.
Her Late Imperial Majesty Haruko, Empress of Japan and later Empress Dowager, Order of the Crown, Order of the Sacred Treasure, was the consort of Emperor Meiji and the first western-style royal consort in Japan's history. She was born in Kyoto on 28 May 1850, the daughter of Ichijo Tadaka, Sadaijin (minister of the left). The future empress's mother was a daughter of Prince Fushimi Kuniye (1802-1875), the lineal ancestor of the entire Imperial Family except Emperor Taishō and his sons. Her original name was Masako and she adopted the name Haruko after her marriage to Emperor Meiji on 2 September 1867. Six months later, she was given the title kogo or "empress consort," the first woman to bear that title since Yohiko, consort of Emperor Go-Uda (1284-1277). Empress Haruko was the first imperial consort to play the public and ceremonial role generally associated with the wife of a monarch. During the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), the Empress helped organize the Japan Red Cross Society, and remained the organization's patron for the rest of her life. She bore Emperor Meiji no children. She became Empress Dowager (kotaigō) on 30 July 1912.The Empress Dowager Haruko died on 19 April 1914 at the Aoyama Palace in Tokyo. She was buried near Emperor Meiji at Momoyama. Emperor Taisho bestowed the posthumous name of Shoken upon her.