Behind The Throne: The Imperial Couple's Lives


Behind the throne: The Imperial couple's lives

The new Emperor and Empress have both broken new ground as members of the Imperial family over the years. Here's a look at their lives.

Emperor Naruhito was born on February 23, 1960.

He is the first Emperor to be born in the postwar period. The eldest son of the Emperor Emeritus and the Empress Emerita was also the first child in the Imperial family to be raised by his parents.

After graduating university, he went to the UK to study at the University of Oxford. He also attended graduate school in Japan -- a first for a member of the Imperial family.

And on his 31st birthday, he officially became Crown Prince.

In 1991, he said that "I'm aware of the significance of my duty as Crown Prince and will perform it to the best of my ability."

In 1993, he got engaged to Masako Owada.

She graduated from Harvard University in 1985, and became a diplomat, following in her father's footsteps. Her decision to marry then Crown Prince Naruhito by giving up her promising career drew a lot of attention at that time as women's participation in the workforce was advancing.

Upon engagement, she said, "The Crown Prince said I might have fears and worries about joining the Imperial family, but he promised to protect me with all his might throughout our lives." Crown Prince Naruhito said, "If there is any hardship, I want to be by her side and protect and help her with all my power."

They married in June of that year.

And 8 years later had a daughter, Princess Aiko.

The Emperor was 41 years old at the time.

And all the while, Emperor Naruhito has supported Empress Masako throughout ongoing medical treatment for "adjustment disorder," a stress-related illness.

When it comes to his duties, the Emperor has shown he wants to continue along the path of his father.

He's repeatedly visited places affected by World War Two, facing the history of the war and sharing his desire for peace.

And, like his father, the Emperor has also been a comforting presence for the nation following natural disasters. He and the Empress have visited emergency shelters in the aftermath of major earthquakes in Japan.

Beyond extending his parents' legacy, there are other issues Emperor Naruhito wants to emphasize, including water and the environment.

He's researched ancient water transportation and his interest has expanded to promoting access to clean water around the world.

Prior to his enthronement, the Emperor signaled he wants to continue being close to the people.

He said, "I would like to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state by always being beside the people and sharing with them joy and sorrows."