Prince Hisahito turns 10 as interest in Imperial family surges amid Emperor’s abdication discussions

Kyodo

Prince Hisahito, third in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne, turned 10 on Tuesday amid heightened interest in the Imperial Household system after his 82-year-old grandfather, Emperor Akihito, indicated last month his readiness to abdicate in the future.

The son of Princess Kiko and Prince Akishino, the younger of the Emperor’s two sons, he is currently in his fourth year at an elementary school in Tokyo affiliated with Ochanomizu University.

Since last fall, Prince Hisahito has been growing rice in a paddy on the premises of his family’s residence in Minato Ward, Tokyo, with the help of his parents and his older sisters, Princess Mako and Princess Kako, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

Among his various school projects, he has studied points of interest in Tokyo and gave a presentation on the area around his residence, according to the agency. The prince hiked to Mount Takao in western Tokyo in June on a school trip. He has also enjoyed skiing during his holidays, the agency said.

He was the first grandson of the Emperor and Empress Michiko, making him the first heir to the throne in nearly 41 years.

Under the male-only succession system, he is third in line to the throne, following his uncle, Crown Prince Naruhito, and his father.

The government has been studying ways to enable the possible abdication of the Emperor after he voiced concerns that owing to his age he may one day be unable to fulfill his role as the symbol of the state.

Because the Imperial Household Law, enacted in 1947, has no provision regarding abdication, a revision to the law or special legislation would be required to enable the Emperor to step down.

There were discussions about a decade ago on revising the Imperial House Law’s provision limiting succession to only male offspring of an emperor. The discussions were shelved when Prince Hisahito was born in 2006.

Under current law, females, including 14-year-old Princess Aiko, the only daughter of the Crown Prince, and the young prince’s sisters, both in their 20s, have to leave the Imperial family if they marry a commoner.

Under that scenario, Prince Hisahito could become the only young member of the Imperial family.

There has also been debate on whether to enable female members of the Imperial family to establish their own branches after marriage to commoners.

On Tuesday, Princess Mako departed on an official visit to Paraguay marking the 80th anniversary of the start of Japanese migration to the South American country.

The princess will deliver an address at a commemorative ceremony Friday and meet with Paraguayans of Japanese descent, according to the Imperial Household Agency.