At the new year congratulatory imperial palace visit, 2 January 2012
2 December 1915|
Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo City, Empire of Japan
(now Chiyoda, Tokyo)
27 October 2016 (aged 100)|
St. Luke's International Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
4 November 2016|
Toshimagaoka Imperial Cemetery, Tokyo
Yuriko Takagi (m. 1941)
|House||Imperial House of Japan|
|Service/||Imperial Japanese Army|
|Years of service||1932-1945|
China Expeditionary Army|
Imperial General Headquarters
Second Sino-Japanese War|
Second World War
Takahito, Prince Mikasa (? Mikasa-no-miya Takahito Shinn?, 2 December 1915 - 27 October 2016) was a Japanese royal, member of the Imperial House of Japan. He was the fourth and youngest son of Emperor Taish? and Empress Teimei and was their last surviving child, the last surviving paternal uncle of Emperor Akihito. His eldest brother was Emperor Sh?wa (Hirohito). After serving as a junior cavalry officer in the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, the prince embarked upon a post-war career as a scholar and part-time lecturer in Middle Eastern studies and Semitic languages.
With the death of his sister-in-law, Kikuko, Princess Takamatsu, on 17 December 2004, he became the oldest living member of the Imperial House of Japan. As a centenarian, Prince Takahito was the oldest living royal, the oldest living prince in line of succession, and also the last one in it. He died at age 100 on 27 October 2016 of cardiac arrest after being hospitalized for pneumonia.
Prince Takahito was born at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, in the third year of his father's reign and a full fifteen years after the birth of the future Emperor Sh?wa. His childhood appellation was Sumi-no-miya. Prince Takahito attended the boys' elementary and secondary departments of the Gakush?in (Peers' School) from 1922 to 1932. By the time he began his secondary schooling, his eldest brother had already ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne and his next two brothers, Prince Chichibu and Prince Takamatsu, had already embarked upon careers in the Japanese Imperial Army and the Japanese Imperial Navy, respectively. He enrolled in the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1932 and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant and assigned to the Fifth Cavalry Regiment in June 1936. He subsequently graduated from the Army Staff College.
Upon attaining the age of majority in December 1935, Emperor Sh?wa granted him the title Mikasa-no-miya (Prince Mikasa) and the authorization to form a new branch of the Imperial Family.
Prince Mikasa was promoted to lieutenant in 1937 and to captain in 1939, serving in China under the name of "Wakasugi". During his army career, he was harshly critical of the Japanese military's conduct in China. In a 1994 interview, he criticised the Imperial Army's invasion of and atrocities in China, and recalled having been "strongly shocked" when an officer informed him that the best way to train new recruits was to use living Chinese POWs for bayonet practice. According to Daniel Barenblatt, Prince Mikasa and his cousin Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda received a special screening by Shir? Ishii of a film showing airplanes loading germ bombs for bubonic plague dessemination over the Chinese city of Ningbo in 1940. He also was given a film of Japanese atrocities, possibly linked to the footage used in The Battle of China, and was so moved that he made his brother Emperor Hirohito watch the film.
In 1994, a newspaper revealed that after Prince Mikasa's return to Tokyo, he had written a stinging indictment of the conduct of the Imperial Japanese Army in China, where the Prince had witnessed Japanese atrocities against Chinese civilians. The Imperial Army General Staff suppressed the document, but one copy survived and surfaced in 1994. After the war, it was reported that while an officer, Prince Mikasa had taken a strict stance against lax discipline and the cruel actions of Japanese soldiers serving in China.
Promoted to major in 1941, Prince Mikasa served as a staff officer in the Headquarters of the China Expeditionary Army at Nanjing, China from January 1943 to January 1944. His role was intended to bolster the legitimacy of the Wang Jingwei regime and to coordinate with Japanese Army staff towards a peace initiative, but his efforts were totally undermined by the Operation Ichi-Go campaign launched by the Imperial General Headquarters.
Prince Mikasa served as a staff officer in the Army Section of the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo until Japan's surrender in August 1945. After the end of the war, the Prince spoke before the Privy Council, urging that Hirohito abdicate to take responsibility for the war.
On 22 October 1941, Prince Mikasa married Yuriko Takagi (born 4 June 1923), the second daughter of Viscount (kazoku, pre-war Japan's upper classes) Masanari Takagi. Prince and Princess Mikasa had five children. In addition to their five children, they had nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren as of 2015. The couple's two daughters left the Imperial Family upon marriage. All of their sons predeceased them.
After the defeat of Japan in World War II, many members of the imperial family, such as Princes Chichibu, Takamatsu and Higashikuni, pressed Emperor Hirohito to abdicate so that one of the Princes could serve as regent until Crown Prince Akihito came of age. On 27 February 1946, Prince Mikasa even stood up in the privy council and indirectly urged the emperor to step down and accept responsibility for Japan's defeat. U.S. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur insisted that Emperor Hirohito retain the throne. According to Minister of Welfare Ashida's diary, "Everyone seemed to ponder Mikasa's words. Never have I seen His Majesty's face so pale."
After the war, Prince Mikasa enrolled in the Literature Faculty of the University of Tokyo and pursued advanced studies in archaeology, Middle Eastern studies, and Semitic languages. From 1954 until his death in 2016, he directed the Japanese Society for Middle East Studies. He was honorary president of the Japan Society of Orientology. The Prince held visiting and guest faculty appointments in Middle Eastern studies and archaeology at various universities in Japan and abroad, including: Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Aoyama Gakuin, Tokyo Woman's Christian University, the University of London, Hokkaido University and the University of Shizuoka. He made numerous radio and television appearances, speaking on cultural subjects, and was known as "the Imperial scholar".
Towards the end of his life, due to his advanced age, Prince Mikasa rarely made public appearances, and regularly used a wheelchair. He and Princess Mikasa lived together at a residence in the grounds of the Akasaka Estate in Motoakasaka, Minato, Tokyo. He underwent heart surgery in 2012, and made a full recovery. His routine included exercising for about 30 minutes each day with his wife at their Tokyo residence, and he often went outdoors for a roll in his wheelchair. About once a week, he would leave his home for a haircut, or to attend various events for other family members. In October 2014, he attended the Tokyo wedding of his granddaughter Princess Noriko, the second daughter of his youngest son Prince Takamado. Palace staff noted that he appeared vigorous until his last days, and that he would always be seen helping his wife to get about. He continued to read newspapers, and enjoyed watching sumo and music programs on television.
On 2 December 2015, Prince Mikasa became the first member of the imperial family to become a centenarian.[a] On his 100th birthday, he said, "Nothing will change just because I turn 100 years old. I'd like to spend my days pleasantly and peacefully while praying for the happiness of people around the world and thanking my wife, Yuriko, who has been supporting me for more than 70 years." At his residence in April 2016, he met the Japanese ambassador to Turkey and took a stroll at the Akasaka Detached Palace.
On 16 May 2016, Prince Mikasa was admitted to the intensive-care unit of St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, having contracted acute pneumonia. He remained in hospital for the remaining months of his life. His heart weakened in June, and fluid accumulated in his lungs. Princess Yuriko frequently visited him along with other Imperial family members, including the Emperor and Empress in June. During his last days, Prince Mikasa remained responsive to visitors. On 22 October, Prince Mikasa and his wife celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in his hospital room. His condition eventually stabilised to the point where he began to receive rehabilitation in his bed, which included stretching his arms and legs. At 7:40 a.m. on 27 October, however, his heart gradually slowed, stopping at 8 a.m. Prince Mikasa was pronounced dead at 8:34 a.m., with his wife at his side. At his death, he had outlived all of his siblings and all three of his sons. He was also the last surviving grandson of Emperor Meiji.
Prince Mikasa's funeral was held on 4 November 2016 at Toshimagaoka Imperial Cemetery. About 580 people including members of the Imperial Family, Prime Minister Shinz? Abe, U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, Emperor Akihito's daughter Sayako Kuroda and her husband Yoshiki Kuroda, and Prince Mikasa's own granddaughter Noriko Senge and her husband Kunimaro Senge, attended the funeral. Princess Mikasa hosted the ceremony as the chief mourner.
|Reference style||His Imperial Highness|
|Spoken style||Your Imperial Highness|
|Princess Yasuko of Mikasa||26 April 1944||16 December 1966||Tadateru Konoe||Tadahiro Konoe|
|Prince Tomohito of Mikasa||5 January 1946||6 June 2012||7 November 1980||Nobuko As?||Princess Akiko of Mikasa|
Princess Y?ko of Mikasa
|Yoshihito, Prince Katsura||11 February 1948||8 June 2014|
|Princess Masako of Mikasa||23 October 1951||14 October 1983||Soshitsu Sen||Akifumi Sen|
|Norihito, Prince Takamado||29 December 1954||21 November 2002||6 December 1984||Hisako Tottori||Princess Tsuguko of Takamado|
Princess Noriko of Takamado
Princess Ayako of Takamado
|Ancestors of Takahito, Prince Mikasa|