Crown Prince Akishino Turns 58, Refers to Need for Reexamination of Public Duties by Imperial Family Members

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Crown Prince Akishino speaks to reporters in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Monday.

Crown Prince Akishino turned 58 on Thursday. Ahead of his birthday, he held a press conference at the East residence in the Moto-Akasaka district of Minato Ward, Tokyo.

The crown prince told reporters that “some form of reexamination may become necessary” regarding the public duties carried out by members of the Imperial family in light of their declining number.

Many members of the Imperial family are growing old, while women members are obliged to abdicate their Imperial status upon marriage. “Those are inevitable matters,” the crown prince said.

However, as many of his own public activities are “passive” and based on requests from organizers, he said he has no intention to lead a review himself. “Those are matters to be discussed between the organizers and the Imperial Household Agency,” he said.

Asked about Diet discussions on a stable Imperial succession, he said, “That relates to the Imperial system, which is not for me to talk about.”

Touching upon some media reports that bashed the Imperial family, the crown prince spoke of the importance to improve information dissemination. “It is crucial to offer important information on the agency’s website in a timely manner,” he stressed.

Referring to the disclosure of matters related to renovation work carried out on his residence — completed in September last year — he said it was not announced “in a timely fashion.”

Initially, all members of the crown prince’s family were to move back into the residence from their temporary dwelling. However, his second daughter, Princess Kako, 28, remained in the temporary residence nearby. It was not until June this year that the agency revealed this information.

Courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency
Crown Prince Akishino and his family are seen in the garden of his residence in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

The crown prince explained the reason of not making a room for the princess in the newly renovated residence by saying, “It would be a waste, because she will sooner or later [get married and] leave the house.”

At first, the family refrained from making this information public based on privacy and security perspectives, but the crown prince later reconsidered, believing that such a major change required explanation.

“I personally was very slow [to act],” he said. “I regret that the timing was very late.”

Referring to the princess’ possible future marriage, he said, “I hope we can discuss things in such a way that I listen carefully to what she thinks, and I will tell her what I think,” adding that there was no information about any potential wedding.

The crown prince’s son, Prince Hisahito, 17, is a second-year high school student. Asked about his son’s future university prospects, the crown prince said: “The most important thing is what he wants to do. I would be happy if he goes to a place where he can do that.”

He spoke about the fighting in Gaza as one of the things that left the strongest impression on him this year. Touching upon reports that more than 40% of those killed in Gaza have been children, the crown prince said, “My heart aches badly.”