Aiko, Princess Toshi is the daughter of crown prince of Japan, Naruhito. Her father, Naruhito, is expected to become the 126th emperor of Japan after the abdication of Emperor Akihito on April 30, 2019. Aiko’s birth gave rise to a widespread succession debate in Japan. The debate questioned the law that governs the line of imperial succession, and there were talks to tweak the law to allow a woman to inherit the throne of the Emperor of Japan. On October 25, 2005, a panel of experts submitted a report which suggested that the ‘Imperial Household Law’ of 1947 should be changed to allow a woman to inherit the ‘Chrysanthemum Throne.’ On January 20, 2006, the then Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro Koizumi announced that he would submit a bill to make changes in the ‘Imperial Household Law.’ However, the bill which could have made Aiko a potential crown princess of Japan was never submitted owing to the birth of Aiko’s cousin Hisahito. Hisahito is now the third in line to the ‘Chrysanthemum Throne’ after his uncle Naruhito and his father, Fumihito.
Childhood & Early Life
Aiko, Princess Toshi was born on December 1, 2001, at the ‘Imperial Household Agency Hospital’ in Tokyo, Japan, to crown prince Naruhito and crown princess Masako. Aiko was born eight years after her parents’ marriage. To celebrate her birth, the Thailand government gifted Aiko two young elephants.
Her parents broke the long-standing tradition by selecting her name. According to the tradition, the name of a newborn within the imperial family is usually selected by the Emperor of Japan. However, the relationship between crown prince Naruhito and Emperor Akihito had strained by the time Aiko was born. Hence her personal name Aiko, which means ‘one who loves others,’ and her official name Toshi, which means ‘one who respects others,’ were selected by her parents.
On April 3, 2006, Aiko was enrolled at ‘Gakushuin Kindergarten.’ She studied at the kindergarten for the next two years before attending ‘Gakushuin Primary School’ in April 2008. Aiko enjoyed attending the primary school where she took part in various activities, such as ball rolling, dancing, and relay. She also learned to play musical instruments like the piano and violin during her stay in ‘Gakushuin Primary School.’
In March 2010, an eight-year-old Aiko refused to go to school. She then revealed that she was being bullied at school by some of her elementary school classmates. She returned to school on May 2, 2010. However, she attended only a limited number of classes and was often accompanied by her mother to the classrooms. In November 2011, Aiko contracted pneumonia and had to be hospitalized.
She continued her school education after recovering from pneumonia. She went on to learn English and became a part of the school orchestra as a cello player. In 2014, she was enrolled at ‘Gakushuin Girls’ Junior High-school.’
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According to the current system of agnatic primogeniture, only male heirs can ascend the ‘Chrysanthemum Throne’ as the females are excluded from succession. Since Aiko was the only child of crown prince Naruhito, a debate about the laws of succession began in Japan.
Many argued that the ‘Imperial Household Law’ should be changed to absolute primogeniture. By doing so, the law would allow a woman to inherit the ‘Chrysanthemum Throne.’ However, traditionalists argued that the women’s reigns were temporary. Though history suggests that there have been empresses in the past, their successors were always chosen from the members of the paternal Imperial bloodline allowing the male-only succession tradition to continue.
Since the debate gave rise to a lot of questions, the Japanese government appointed a panel of experts to come up with a solution. On October 25, 2005, the panel submitted a report, which suggested changes to the imperial succession law.
On January 20, 2006, the then Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro Koizumi addressed the controversy during his annual keynote speech. Junichiro Koizumi said that he would submit a bill to the ‘National Diet’ (Japan’s bicameral legislature) to allow women to ascend the throne. In February 2006, it was announced that Naruhito’s younger brother Fumihito and his wife Kiko were expecting their third child. After the announcement was made, proposals to replace the imperial succession law were shelved temporarily.
On September 6, 2006, Fumihito became a proud father of a son named Hisahito. Hisahito’s birth provided the imperial family with its first male heir in 41 years. By the time of his birth, Shinzō Abe had become the Prime Minister of Japan. On January 3, 2007, Shinzō Abe declared that the proposal to make changes in the Imperial succession law would be dropped. Prince Hisahito of Akishino is third in line to ascend the throne after his uncle Naruhito and his father Fumihito.
Family & Personal Life
Aiko followed in the footsteps of her family members to study in the United Kingdom. On July 22, 2018, Aiko left for the United Kingdom to attend the summer school in ‘Eton College.’ Aiko attended a three-week program at ‘Eton College’ where she learned about the British culture. During her stay in the United Kingdom, Aiko lived in a dormitory along with other students.
Though she has visited many countries with her parents, her trip to the United Kingdom marked her first foreign trip on her own. Aiko completed her three-week program at ‘Eton College’ and returned to Japan on August 9, 2018. Apart from studying, Aiko enjoys spending time with her parents. During 2017 and 2018, she accompanied her parents on their official trips. She also met members of several foreign royal families.
In February 2008, the ‘Imperial Household Agency’ informed crown prince Naruhito that the Emperor would want to spend more time with Aiko. Hence, Aiko started spending more time with her grandparents. On October 20, 2018, the family members gathered at ‘Imperial Palace’ to celebrate the 84th birthday of Empress Michiko.