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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Japanese Consular Office to mark Emperor Akihito’s 80th birthday

The Consular Office of Japan on Saipan will commemorate the 80th birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito with a gala reception on Dec. 3, 6pm at the Hafadai Beach Hotel.

Emperor Akihito, along with his wife, Empress Michiko, visited Saipan in 2005 to pay tribute to the casualties of World War II. His real birthday is Dec. 23, which is celebrated as a national holiday in Japan.

Koji Hino, the Japanese consul on Saipan, said that among the guests at the gala reception are Gov. Eloy S. Inos, Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider, and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).

More than 150 guests from the CNMI government, businesses, and other organizations are also expected to attend the reception.

According to a media release from the Consular Office of Japan on Saipan, Dec. 23 is a national holiday when the Japanese people celebrate the reign of Emperor Akihito.

Japanese mythology says that the Japanese emperors, who are called tennoes in Japanese, are the descendants of the son goddess named Amaterasu Omikami, and that the first emperor, Jimmu, ascended the throne and began his reign in 660 BC. Emperor Akihito is thought to be a direct descendant of Emperor Jimmu and the 125th emperor to succeed to the throne.

Emperor Akihito was born on Dec. 23, 1933. He is the eldest son of the late Emperor Showa (1901 to 1989) and the late Empress Kojun (1903 to 2000).

Emperor Akihito married Michiko Shoda in 1959 when he was the crown prince. She was the first crown princess to be selected from outside the circle of the imperial family and the former peerage.

This was a major change to a tradition that had been followed for a long time. Many Japanese people welcomed their marriage, which symbolized the democratization of the imperial family.

Emperor Akihito ascended to the throne after the Showa Emperor died in January 1989. The era name, which is called gengo in Japanese, was changed from Showa to Heisei. The new era name of Heisei represents achieving peace. Emperor Akihito is known as a scholar of marine biology and ichthyology. He also enjoys music and sports.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have two sons, Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino, and one daughter, Princess Sayako.

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