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Princess Aiko, Japan's Disinherited Princess Turns 20

Princess Aiko was born on December 1, 2001 as the only child of then Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako. 

Her name, Aiko, in Japanese means "a person who loves others". She has an official imperial title of Princess Toshi which means "a person who respects others".

Her father, Naruhito, ascended the Chrysanthemum throne on May 1, 2019 following the abdication of her grandfather, Emperor Akihito. And in November 2020, it was formally announced that Emperor Naruhito's heir presumptive will be his younger brother, Fumihito, Prince Akishino. 

This move effectively disinherited Princess Aiko because she is a female and under the Japanese Imperial Household Law of 1947, Chrysanthemum throne can only be inherited by male descendants. 

Princess Aiko, the Princess Toshi

Under the same law, female members of the imperial family who will marry commoners will be stripped of their princess title and forced to become commoners. 

Like what happened to Emperor Naruhito's sister, Princess Sayako, and his niece, Princess Mako, who are now living as commoners and ceased to be members of the Japanese imperial family.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako, and their only child, Princess Aiko

This means that in the future, if Princess Aiko will marry a commoner, which seems to be likely because Japan already abolished its nobility in 1947, she will be furtherly removed from her family and will be stripped of her princess title. 

Such a sad fate for this imperial princess, just because she was born a female. It's still appalling to know that a country so prosperous and progressive as Japan still refused to recognize women empowerment.

Princess Aiko currently attends Gakushuin University in Tokyo, taking up Japanese literature and will be on her junior year. She is also studying foreign languages: English and Spanish.

Both her parents are foreign-educated. The emperor attended Oxford University in England while the empress attended Harvard University in the United States. Both are fluent in English and experts in foreign relations.

Coming-of-age birthday

On Wednesday, Princess Aiko turns 20, which is the age where Japanese citizens become adult.

The Princess Toshi owns two dogs and 1 cat

The Japanese Imperial Agency released a statement that the Princess Toshi will have her coming-of-age birthday ceremony in December 5. She will be awarded with the "Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown".

While it's a common practice to celebrate the imperial family members' coming-of-age ceremony on the day of their birthday, Princess Aiko's celebration needed to postpone due to the conflict of her schedule. She still has classes to attend in the university.

Princess Aiko with her parents

She won't also have her own tiara. Female imperial family members typically start to wear tiaras after they become adults. But Aiko won’t get a new tiara and will just borrow one from her aunt, the former Princess Sayako.

In a published statement of the Japanese Imperial Agency, the princess thanked her parents for their “loving and careful upbringing”, alongside “all the people who have been involved in my journey up to this day”.

She also said she wanted to “refine” herself so she could “grow into an adult who can be of service to others”.

"I hope to perform each and every duty with sincerity as an adult member of the Imperial Family and do everything I can to help the Emperor and the Empress."

Happy birthday Princess Aiko! 🎂🎈

Related story: Japan's succession crisis

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