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Aiko
Princess Toshi
Princess_Aiko_on_the_occasion_of_the_New_Year_(20210101)
Aiko, Princess Toshi during the new year celebrations 2021
Born Aiko, Princess Toshi
(敬宮愛子内親王)
(2001-12-01) 1 December 2001 (age 22)
Imperial Household Agency Hospital,
Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan
House Imperial House of Japan
Father Naruhito
Mother Masako Owada


Aiko, Princess Toshi (敬宮愛子内親王, Toshi-no-miya Aiko Naishinnō, born 1 December 2001) is a member of the Japanese imperial family. She is the only child of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan.

Following her birth, the ongoing Japanese imperial succession debate had resulted in some politicians holding a favorable view on rescinding agnatic primogeniture imposed by World War II allies on the constitution of Japan. However, once her uncle and the current crown prince Fumihito had his son Hisahito in September 2006, he became next in the line of succession following his father. Aiko remains at present legally ineligible to inherit the throne, while debate about the possibility of having future empresses regnant continues.

Birth

Princess Aiko three-month-old
Aiko, three months after her birth, 2002

Princess Aiko was born on 1 December 2001 at 2:43 PM in the Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo Imperial Palace, the first and only child of the then-Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Naruhito and Masako.

In a break with tradition, the name of the princess was chosen by her parents, instead of by the Emperor. It was selected from clause 56 of Li Lou II, one of the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Mencius. Aiko, the princess's personal name, is written with the kanji characters for 'love' () and 'child' () and means "a person who loves others". The princess also has an imperial title, Princess Toshi (敬宮, toshi-no-miya), which means "a person who respects others".

Education

Princess Aiko began her education at Gakushūin Kindergarten on 3 April 2006. She left kindergarten on 15 March 2008.

On her eighth birthday, it was revealed her interests included writing kanji characters, calligraphy, jump rope, playing piano and violin, and writing poetry.

In early March 2010, Aiko began to stay home from school due to being bullied by boys in her elementary school. Aiko returned to school on a limited basis on 2 May 2010. After returning to school, a senior palace official said that she would attend a limited number of classes accompanied by her mother, upon advice from a doctor at the Crown Prince's household.

Naruhito, Masako and Aiko in Tochigi Prefecture
Aiko with her parents in Tochigi Prefecture in 2019

In November 2011, Aiko was hospitalized with pneumonia. In 2014, she enrolled at the Gakushuin Girl's Junior High-school.

In the summer of 2018, she made her first solo trip abroad to attend a summer program at Eton College. Reports from an unnamed palace source close to the family reported that Aiko provides her mother Masako with emotional support in her new role as empress. In February 2020 she was accepted at Gakushuin University where she is to major in Japanese language and literature.

Public life

Rhododendron quinquefolium02
Cork azalea, Rhododendron quinquefolium, designated imperial personal emblem of Aiko

From the age of 16, Aiko began accompanying her parents at public appearances. She was ineligible to attend any of her father's ascension ceremonies in person as she was still a minor at the time. On 5 December 2021, the Sunday after her 20th birthday, she participated in formal coming of age ceremonies and was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown by the Emperor. She attended the 2022 New Year celebration at the Imperial Palace as her first public event as a working member of the imperial family. Her first press conference took place on 17 March. Her next public outing was on 5 November, when she participated with her cousin Princess Kako of Akishino in a so-called "Gagaku" concert organized by the Imperial Household Agency. On 24 November, Princess Aiko visited an exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum, with her parents.

Succession to the throne

The Imperial Household Law of 1947 abolished the Japanese nobility; under provisions of this law, the imperial family was streamlined to the descendants of Emperor Taishō. The laws of succession in Japan prevent inheritance by or through women.

Debate

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko with the Imperial Family (November 2013)
Princess Aiko (standing, center) with the Imperial Family (November 2013)

The birth of Princess Aiko sparked debate in Japan about whether the Imperial Household Law of 1947 should be changed from the current system of agnatic primogeniture to absolute primogeniture, which would allow a woman, as firstborn, to inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne ahead of a younger brother or male cousin. Although Imperial chronologies include ten empresses regnant in the course of Japanese history, their successors were always selected from amongst the members of the paternal Imperial bloodline, which is why some scholars argue that the women's reigns were temporary and that male-only succession tradition must be maintained in the 21st century. Though Empress Genmei was followed on the throne by her daughter, Empress Genshō, Genshō's father, Prince Kusakabe, was also a member of the imperial dynasty, as the son of Emperor Tenmu, and therefore Genshō was a patrilineal descendant of the imperial bloodline. In addition, Empress Genshō herself was succeeded by her brother's son, thus keeping the throne in the same agnatic line; both Genshō and Genmei, as well as all other empresses regnant and emperors, belonged to the same agnatic line.

A government-appointed panel of experts submitted a report on 25 October 2005, recommending that the Imperial succession law be amended to permit absolute primogeniture. On 20 January 2006, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi used part of his annual keynote speech to address the controversy when he pledged to submit a bill to the Diet letting women ascend to the throne in order that the Imperial throne be continued into the future in a stable manner. Koizumi did not announce a timing for the legislation to be introduced nor did he provide details about the content, but he did note that it would be in line with the conclusions of the 2005 government panel.

Birth of male cousin

Proposals to replace agnatic primogeniture were shelved temporarily after it was announced in February 2006 that the-then Crown Prince's younger brother, Fumihito, Prince Akishino, and his wife, Kiko, Princess Akishino, were expecting their third child. On 6 September 2006, Princess Kiko gave birth to a son, Hisahito, who was third in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the time of the birth under the current law, after his uncle, the then-Crown Prince, and his father, Prince Akishino. The prince's birth provided the first male heir to be born in the imperial family in 41 years. On 3 January 2007, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced that he would drop the proposal to alter the Imperial Household Law. Therefore, at this time, it seems unlikely that the succession laws will be changed to allow Princess Aiko to ascend the throne.

Titles, styles and honours

Titles and styles

Princess Aiko is styled as "Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko". She also has an imperial title, "Princess Toshi" (敬宮, toshi-no-miya).

Honours

National honours

  •  Japan: JPN Hokan-sho 1Class BAR.svg Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown (5 December 2021)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Aiko de Toshi para niños

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