Akihito (明仁, Japanese: ; English pronunciation (help·info); born 23 December 1933) is the current Emperor of Japan. He succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne upon the death of his father Hirohito (Emperor Shōwa) on 7 January 1989. According to Japan's traditional order of succession, he is the 125th member of the world's oldest reigning dynasty.
In Japan, the Emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Majesty the Emperor" (天皇陛下 Tennō Heika) which may be shortened to His Majesty (陛下 Heika). In writing, the Emperor is also referred to formally as "The Reigning Emperor" (今上天皇 Kinjō Tennō). The Era of Akihito's reign bears the name "Heisei" (平成), and according to custom he will be renamed Emperor Heisei (平成天皇 Heisei Tennō, see "posthumous name") by order of the Cabinet after his death. At the same time, the name of the next era under his successor will be established. If the Emperor abdicates as planned, he will receive the title of Jōkō (上皇), an abbreviation of Daijō Tennō (太上天皇, Retired Emperor), and a new era will be established.
Akihito was born in the Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, and is the elder son and the fifth child of the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) and Empress Kōjun (Nagako). Titled Prince Tsugu (継宮 Tsugu-no-miya) as a child, he was raised and educated by his private tutors and then attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Peers' School (Gakushūin) from 1940 to 1952. Unlike his predecessors in the Imperial family, he did not receive a commission as an army officer, at the request of his father, Hirohito.
During the American firebombing raids on Tokyo in March 1945, Akihito and his younger brother, Prince Masahito, were evacuated from the city. During the American occupation of Japan following World War II, Prince Akihito was tutored in the English language and Western manners by Elizabeth Gray Vining. He briefly studied at the Department of Political Science at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, though he never received a degree.
Akihito was heir-apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne from the moment of his birth. His formal Investiture as Crown Prince (立太子礼 Rittaishi-no-rei) was held at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 10 November 1952. In June 1953 Akihito represented Japan at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London.