Empress’ father passes away from old age at 95 in Tokyo

Hidesaburo Shoda, father of the Empress and honorary chairman and adviser of Nissin Flour Milling Co., died of old age at a Tokyo hospital Friday morning. He was 95.

Shoda died at 9:50 a.m. at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Chuo Ward, where he had been hospitalized for the past year. His health had been unstable since 1996, and he frequently stayed at the hospital, sources said.

The Empress and her daughter, Princess Nori, were present at his deathbed Friday, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

Shoda had received a visit from the Emperor and Empress on Wednesday, they said.

Born in Gunma Prefecture as the third son to Teiichiro Shoda, founder of Nissin Flour Milling, Shoda graduated from Tokyo University of Commerce, which later changed its name to Hitotsubashi University, in 1927.

He entered Nissin Flour Milling in 1929 after briefly working for Mitsubishi Corp., and assumed the post of president in 1945.

He served as director of the Japanese Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) and Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren) and received the Medal with Blue Ribbon in 1966.

Shoda had two sons and two daughters, and the Empress was his eldest daughter. His wife, Fumiko, died at 78 in 1988.

Following the marriage of his daughter, Michiko, to the then Crown Prince in April 1959, Shoda avoided meetings where politicians were present and lavish parties in order not to cause trouble for the Imperial family, people close to the family said.

Shoda was always eager to see his daughter and grandchildren when he visited the Imperial Palace on special occasions, they said.

Michiko Shoda was the first commoner to marry a crown prince. Both of her sons — the Crown Prince and Prince Akishino — have married commoners.

Shoda’s funeral will be held Monday at 1 p.m. at Aoyama Funeral Hall in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.