Akihito (äkēˈhētō) [key], 1933–, emperor of Japan (1989–). As crown prince, he traveled widely, visiting Great Britain, Canada, the United States, and many countries of Asia and South America. Like his father, Hirohito, Akihito is an accomplished amateur marine biologist. In Apr., 1959, he married Michiko Shoda, a commoner; it was the first time that an heir to the Japanese throne had wed outside the court nobility. Tradition was also abandoned when their three children, Crown Prince Naruhito, Prince Akishino, and Princess Nori, were raised at home. When Akihito ascended to the throne, the Heisei ("achieving peace") era was proclaimed. As emperor, Akihito has continued his efforts to humanize and modernize the royal family.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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