Prince Hisahito (C) with his imperial parents, Crown Prince Akishino (L) and Crown Princess Kiko. (Image via DW)

The Future of Japanese Monarchy: Prince Hisahito

The month of May marked the ascension of Emperor Naruhito to the Chrysanthemum Throne, succeeding the Emperor Emeritus Akihito, the first abdication in two centuries. On 22 October, an enthronement ceremony and parade will be held for Emperor Naruhito to declare that Emperor Naruhito will be the symbol of Japan officially.

Just three months after Emperor Naruhito’s ascension, in August, the youngest prince, Prince Hisahito, a 13-year-old crown prince, joined the state visit to Bhutan with his family, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko. There is no public exposure for the Prince Hisahito.

The Asahi Shimbun revealed in its editorial column in 2019 that eventually Prince Hisahito will be the Emperor of Japan, second-in-line to the next Emperor, Crown Prince Akishino.

The Chrysanthemum Throne only sees male successor as the eligible candidate to sit on it. Born in 2006, the conservative politician referred to Hisahito’s birth as a “revelation of the heaven’s will”.

Since 1965, no male successor had been seen. The current Empress of Japan, Empress Masako, gave birth to Aiko (Princess Toshi). Many then requested an amendment to the succession law and let females ascend onto the throne.

After the abdication of Emperor Emeritus Akihito, there are two options for the female successors: Princess Toshi or two elder sisters of Prince Hisahito, Princess Mako and Princess Kako. The imperial family status of the three female successors will be returned after their marriages, and they could choose to ascend or to pass the throne to one of their children.

Princess Mako became the ninth member of the Imperial Household to marry a commoner, Kei Komuro. Thus, she had to give up her Imperial Family status. However, the marriage is being postponed since Komuro’s family is being involved in a financial dispute.

This law received a lot of support from the Japanese people. However, after the birth of Hisahito, it was put on hold.

The media is monitoring how Prince Hisahito will be properly groomed to be the next Emperor after his father. The 13-year-old Prince became the first imperial family member to study outside Gakushuin Junior High Private School. He attended Ochanomizu University Junior High School, Tokyo.

Reportedly, there was an assassination attempt against Prince Hisahito, happening just days before the ascension of Emperor Naruhito.

Unlike his grandfather, Prince Hisahito did not have any special mentor to guide him to be a proper Emperor. Therefore, it is unclear yet whether Crown Prince Akishino and the Imperial Household Agency are considering how Prince Hisahito will fully bear the dynasty.

Some conservatives asked the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who was also a conservative, to restore imperial status for those whose status was revoked after the war. Abe, however, did not say much. The Japanese PM also did not support the idea that there should be a female successor for the Chrysanthemum Throne.

However, one thing is clear: the pressure will be so heavy upon the shoulders of the 13-year-old Prince.