• Kyodo


The following is a chronology of major events related to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko:

  • Dec. 23, 1933: Prince Akihito born as the elder son of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako, who are posthumously called Emperor Showa and Empress Kojun.
  • September 1939: World War II begins.
  • May 1944 to November 1945: Prince Akihito evacuates from Tokyo due to the war.
  • Aug. 15, 1945: Emperor Showa tells the nation by radio of Japan’s surrender in the war.
  • Nov. 10, 1952: Prince Akihito officially becomes crown prince.
  • March 30-Oct. 12, 1953: Crown Prince Akihito visits Europe and the United States, attends the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in place of his father.
  • April 10, 1959: Crown Prince Akihito and Michiko Shoda, the elder daughter of Hidesaburo Shoda, who later became president of Nisshin Flour Milling Co., marry, making the groom the first crown prince and later the first emperor to be married a commoner.
  • Feb. 23, 1960: First son, Prince Naruhito, born.
  • Nov. 30, 1965: Second son, Prince Akishino, born.
  • April 18, 1969: Daughter, Princess Nori, born.
  • July 17-19, 1975: First visit by the couple to Okinawa Prefecture, three years after its reversion to Japan from U.S. control. They narrowly escape a firebomb thrown at them at the Himeyuri war memorial by leftist activists.
  • Jan. 7, 1989: Upon the death of Emperor Showa, the crown prince ascends to the throne and the couple assume the titles of emperor and empress. The era name changes to Heisei the next day.
  • Nov. 12, 1990: Enthronement ceremony is held.
  • July 10, 1991: Visit areas affected by a volcanic eruption of the Fugen peak of Mount Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture.
  • Oct. 23-28, 1992: Visit China, first trip to the country as Japanese emperor.
  • April 23-26, 1993: Visit Okinawa, first trip to the prefecture by an emperor.
  • Oct. 20, 1993: On her 59th birthday, Empress Michiko collapses, becomes unable to speak for months due to psychogenic aphasia.
  • Feb. 12, 1994: Visit Iwo Jima, a fierce battleground in the Pacific during World War II, to pay tribute to the war dead.
  • Jan. 31, 1995: Visit Hyogo Prefecture after the Great Hanshin Earthquake on Jan. 17.
  • July 26-Aug. 3, 1995: Visit memorials in atomic-bombed cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as well as Okinawa, on 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
  • July 3-12, 1997: Empress Michiko is hospitalized for shingles.
  • Jan. 18, 2003: Emperor Akihito undergoes prostate cancer surgery.
  • June 27-28, 2005: Visit Saipan to honor the souls of war dead on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
  • March 16, 2011: Emperor Akihito sends a message of hope by video five days after a massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan triggered a crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
  • March 30-May 11, 2011: Visit disaster-hit areas in the northeast and shelters around Tokyo for seven weeks in a row.
  • Feb. 18, 2012: Emperor Akihito undergoes heart bypass surgery.
  • Nov. 14, 2013: The Imperial Household Agency decides to switch to cremation for the emperor and empress rather than burial, which has been the tradition for 350 years, following a proposal by the couple.
  • April 8-9, 2015: Visit Palau to pay tribute to war dead on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
  • Aug. 15, 2015: Emperor Akihito states “deep remorse” over World War II for the first time at an annual memorial ceremony for the war dead.
  • Jan. 26-30, 2016: Visit the Philippines, pay tribute to the war dead.
  • Aug. 8, 2016: Emperor Akihito releases video message expressing desire to abdicate and pass the throne on to Crown Prince Naruhito.
  • June 9, 2017: Special legislation to enable Emperor Akihito to abdicate enacted.
  • September 2018: Visit areas affected by torrential rains in prefectures of Ehime, Hiroshima and Okayama.
  • April 30, 2019: Emperor Akihito steps down in an abdication ceremony, becoming the first Japanese monarch to do so in about 200 years.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.