Princess Akishino (文仁親王妃紀子 Fumihito Shinnōhi Kiko ), née Kiko Kawashima (川嶋紀子 Kawashima Kiko , born 11 September 1966), is the wife of Prince Akishino, the second son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan. She became the second commoner to marry into the imperial family; her mother-in-law, the Empress, was the first in 1959. She is also known as Princess Kiko.
Kiko was born in Shizuoka, Japan. She is the eldest daughter of Kazuyo and Tatsuhiko Kawashima. Her father worked as an economics professor at Gakushuin University. She was affectionately called "Kiki" by friends and relatives in her childhood.
She spent her preschool days in the United States when her father received a PhD in Regional Economy from the University of Pennsylvania and later taught there. Princess Kiko attended elementary and high school in Vienna, Austria, when her father became the chief researcher at The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, where he studied spatial science and NGO activities. The future princess became fluent in English and German. She participated in the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) in 1987 and continues to be a supporter of the program. She received her undergraduate degree from the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Letters of Gakushuin University in 1989. Kiko subsequently began graduate study in psychology at Gakushuin and completed the first part of the doctorate in 1995.
She was chosen as one of the Young Global Leaders for 2007, drawn from a poll of 4000 candidates.
Prince Akishino first proposed marriage to Kiko Kawashima on 26 June 1986 while they were both undergraduates at Gakushuin. Three years later, Imperial Household Council announced the engagement on 12 September 1989 and the engagement ceremony was held on 12 January 1990. The wedding took place at an exclusive shrine at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 29 June 1990. The Imperial Household Economy Council had previously granted the prince permission to establish a new branch of the imperial family and the Emperor granted him the title Akishino no miya (Prince Akishino) on his wedding day. Upon marriage, his bride became Her Imperial Highness The Princess Akishino, known informally as Princess Kiko.
The engagement and marriage of Prince Akishino to the former Kiko Kawashima broke precedent in several respects. First, at the time, the groom was still a graduate student at Gakushuin and married before his older brother, Crown Prince Naruhito. Additionally, the princess was the first woman from a middle-class background to marry into the imperial family. (Although Empress Michiko was born a commoner, she was from a very wealthy family; her father was the president of a large flour-milling company.) Unusual for the time, their engagement and marriage were romantically based, rather than arranged.
Princess Akishino completed her post-graduate studies in psychology in between her official duties and received her master's degree in psychology in 1995. She is known for her continuing interest in deaf culture and the Deaf in Japan. She learned Japanese sign language and she is a skilled sign language interpreter. She attends the "Sign Language Speech Contest for High School Students" held every August, and "Praising Mothers Raising Children with Hearing Impairments" every December. In October 2008, she participated in the "38th National Deaf Women's Conference." She also signs in informal Deaf gatherings.
Since 1997, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko and their children have maintained a principal residence on the grounds of the Akasaka Estate in Motoakasaka, Minato, Tokyo. The couple have two daughters and one son:
- Princess Mako (眞子内親王 Mako Naishinnō , born 23 October 1991)
- Princess Kako (佳子内親王 Kako Naishinnō , born 29 December 1994)
- Prince Hisahito (悠仁親王 Hisahito Shinnō , born 6 September 2006)
Princess Akishino often accompanies her husband to attend a wide variety of official events within Japan. These events include the Festival of the Sea, the National High School Horse Riding Festival, the All Japan High School Cultural Festival, the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize Ceremony, the National Sports Festival, the National City Greening Festival and All Japan Lifelong Learning Forum. The couple is also called upon to meet with important overseas visitors to improve diplomatic relations.
The Prince and Princess have made numerous official visits to foreign countries. In June 2002, they became the first members of the Imperial Family to visit Mongolia, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. In October 2002, they visited the Netherlands to attend the funeral of the Prince Claus of the Netherlands. In September 2003, the Prince and Princess made goodwill visits to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, again, the first time ever members of the Imperial Family had visited these countries. In March 2004, the Prince and Princess returned to the Netherlands for the funeral of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. In January 2005, they visited Luxembourg to attend the funeral of Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte. In January 2006, they visited Indonesia for a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Indonesia. From October to November 2006, they visited Paraguay to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japanese emigration to that country.
Princess Akishino has also assumed the role of Patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, succeeding the Late Princess Chichibu in June 1994. As the Patroness, she attends various ceremonial events such as the Anti-Tuberculosis National Convention, the Central training seminar for branch leaders of Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Women's Society, and meetings with specialists who participate in the international training course in the National Tuberculosis Program Management. Also, Princess Akishino assumed the role of Patroness of the Social Welfare Juridical Person "Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-Kai", succeeding Princess Mikasa in October 2010, and visit and see its activities. She also plays an active role in the Japanese Red Cross Society.
Titles and styles
- 11 September 1966 – 29 June 1990: Miss Kiko Kawashima
- 29 June 1990 – present: Her Imperial Highness The Princess Akishino
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown
- Spain : Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
- Sweden : Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star
- Patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association
- President of the Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-kai
- Honorary Vice-President of the Japanese Red Cross Society
- Honorary Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
|Princess Mako of Akishino||23 October 1991|
|Princess Kako of Akishino||29 December 1994|
|Prince Hisahito of Akishino||6 September 2006|
- "Princess Akishino's pregnancy". Japan Times. March 29, 2006.
- "Japanese Prince Plans To Marry A Commoner". Chicago Tribune. September 1989.
- "Scenes from An Uncommon Marriage: Japan's Prince Aya Weds a Cinderella Psych Major, Kiko Kawashima". People. June 1990.
- Valpy, Michael. "The emperor and the tennis pro," Globe and Mail (Canada). June 27, 2009; 紀子さま、高校生手話コンテストで挨拶 2009年8月29日, TBS
- Imperial Household Agency. Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino
- "Princess Kiko chats with Deaf soccer players in sign language after film show," Deaf Japan News. September 7, 2010.
- "Japan royal baby named Hisahito," BBC News. September 12, 2006.
- Photo of Kiko wearing the order
- Kunaicho | Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino
- Kunaicho | Press Conference on the Occasion of the Birthday of His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino (2006)
- CNN | Japan's Princess Kiko has boy
- BBC | Japan welcomes imperial baby boy
- CNN | Japan's new prince meets public
|Order of precedence in Japan|
The Crown Princess
HIH The Princess Akishino
The Princess Toshi