The title of Prince Akishino was bestowed by His Majesty The Emperor (now The Emperor Emeritus) on His Imperial Highness upon his marriage on June 29, 1990. Since the change in Imperial reign from Heisei to Reiwa on May 1, 2019, His Imperial Highness has assumed the position of the Imperial Heir, Crown Prince, and the Ceremonies for Proclamation of Crown Prince were held on November 8, 2020.
His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino, accompanied by Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess Akishino, attends and is present at various court ceremonies including Their Majesties’ New Year's Reception, and other court functions held at the Imperial Palace.
His Imperial Highness also attends a wide variety of ceremonial events around the country, mostly together with Her Imperial Highness. Major events among these include the National “Protect the Greenery” Gathering, the Sea Festival, the National Inter-High School Championship, the All Japan Senior High School Cultural Festival, the Fukuoka Prize Award Ceremony, and the National Tree-Care Festival. On these occasions Their Imperial Highnesses take the opportunity to observe conditions in the host regions of Japan.
Ceremonial events in Tokyo that His Imperial Highness attends include the Presentation Ceremony for the International Prize for Biology, which His Imperial Highness has taken on from His Majesty The Emperor Emeritus, the Central Convention of the Citizens Movement for Traffic Safety, the Presentation Ceremony for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Prize and the Japan Academy Medal, the Presentation Ceremony for the JSPS Ikushi Prize (a formal recognition of outstanding doctoral students who can be expected to contribute to Japan’s future scientific advancement), which His Imperial Highness has taken on from His Majesty The Emperor Emeritus, the Presentation Ceremony for the Grand Prize for the Global Environment Award, the Opening of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (ACA) National Arts Festival, the Harvest Festival of the Festival of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Annual Commendation Ceremony for the Japan Fisheries Association’s Fisheries Achievement Awards, the Blue Planet Prize Awards Ceremony, and the Central Presentation Ceremony for the Japan Students Science Awards. Memorial services for the victims of war damage and of earthquakes that His Imperial Highness attends include the vernal and autumnal grand memorial services for the victims of war damage from the Tokyo air raids, and for the victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and the Memorial Service to Commemorate the Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
His Imperial Highness has assumed the role of Patron or Honorary Patron of various associations and organizations. In this capacity, His Imperial Highness attends events including the Presentation Ceremony for the Ornithological Award in memory of Dr. Yamashina Yoshimaro (formerly Marquis Yamashina, the second son of Prince Yamashina Kikumaro), and is present at the presentation session of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology on the findings of research encouraged by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and attends the Annual Meeting of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Annual General Meeting of the Japan-Netherlands Society, the Presentation Ceremony for the Japan Water Prize and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, the Awards Ceremony for Academic Research Grants made by the Waksman Foundation of Japan Inc., the Annual General Meeting of the Saiseikai Imperial Gift Foundation Inc., the Annual Commendation Ceremony for the Agricultural Society of Japan’s Agricultural Achievement Awards, the Annual Commendation Ceremony for the Japan Forestry Association’s Forestry Management Innovation Awards, and the Opening Ceremony of the Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Japan Association of Botanical Gardens. Furthermore, in his capacity as the Patron of the Association for Conserving Mitera Sennyuji Temple, the temple in which Imperial memorial tablets are enshrined, His Imperial Highness visits Mitera Sennyuji Temple each year, and attends the Assosiation’s Annual Meeting.
In addition, as part of his official activities at his residence, His Imperial Highness meets dignitaries from Japan and overseas, as well as delegations from various fields, such as the young leaders of the Forum for East Asia - Latin America Cooperation, the participants in the Invitational Program of the “Next Generation Nikkei Leader’s Conference”, the returnees on the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers program, the recipients of the Japan Foundation Awards, the elementary and junior high school student reporters from Okinawa and Hakodate, and the previous awardees of the Good Conduct Association of Japan, who have been commended for a continuing lifetime record of outstanding good deeds.
At many of these official activities, His Imperial Highness is accompanied by Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess Akishino.
As a result of COVID-19 becoming an epidemic, physical events scheduled in 2020 were either scaled down, canceled or postponed, thereby preventing (or deferring) many physical attendances at events. Under these circumstances, from an early stage Their Imperial Highnesses and their family have been receiving online briefings from many experts, such as the medical profession, on topics including the impact of COVID-19 in various areas. Physical attendance at events has also been replaced by online visits and person-to-person exchanges.
Their Imperial Highnesses have made official visits to foreign countries. Recent among these were the visit to the Republic of Zambia and the United Republic of Tanzania in June to July 2014, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Zambia, and to foster goodwill at the invitation of the United Republic of Tanzania, the visit to the Republic of Guatemala and the United Mexican States in October 2014, to foster goodwill at the invitation of the Republic of Guatemala, and on the occasion of the Japan-Mexico Exchange Year in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Hasekura Mission in Mexico, the visit to the Federative Republic of Brazil in October to November 2015, on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Federative Republic of Brazil, the visit to the Italian Republic in May 2016, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Italian Republic, the visit to the Republic of Chile in September 2017, on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Chile, the visit to the United States of America in June 2018, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first group migration of Japanese (the Gannenmono, a name given to those migrating in 1868, the first year (gannen) of the Meiji Era) to Hawaii, and the visit to the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Finland in June to July 2019, on the occasion of the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Poland, and between Japan and the Republic of Finland. Their Imperial Highnesses also visited the Kingdom of Thailand in October 2017 to attend the offering of the sandalwood flowers at the Royal Cremation Ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Besides his various official duties and public activities, Crown Prince Akishino has continued to pursue his research interests in living organisms. As a founder member of ‘The Society of Biosophia Studies’, His Imperial Highness carries out research into the relationships between humans and other living organisms. In connection with his research interests, His Imperial Highness has also co-authored and co-edited publications including “Illustrated Encyclopedia of European Poultry”, “Chickens and Human Beings—Viewing the Aspects from Ethnobiology—", “Chickens and Humans in Thailand: Their Multiple Relationships and Domestication”, and “Encyclopedia of Catfishes”.
The main theme of his current research is domestication studies; namely, elucidating the process of domestication of chickens from their wild progenitors, and the subsequent breeding of chicken varieties. His research focuses on the importance of various factors in the breeding of chicken varieties, including considerations such as the traditional customs, beliefs and preferences of different local communities, as well as biological traits both morphological and molecular.
In addition to research based in Japan, Crown Prince Akishino has carried out field research in the Republic of Indonesia in 1993 and 1994, in Yunnan Province in the People's Republic of China in 1998 with Crown Princess Akishino, in the Kingdom of Thailand and the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 2001, in the Kingdom of Thailand again in 2005, in the Republic of Madagascar in 2007 and the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 2010 with Princess Mako, in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in 2012, and in Hungary with Princess Mako in 2017.
In September 1996, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies conferred the degree of Ph.D. in science on His Imperial Highness for his thesis on the origins of chickens and their domestication entitled, "Molecular Phylogeny of Junglefowls, genus Gallus and Monophyletic Origin of Domestic Fowls".
His Imperial Highness has visited the Kingdom of Thailand on many occasions in the course of his research on ichthyology and on the domestication of chickens, and has published the results of research in a number of academic papers. His Imperial Highness has received honorary doctorates from the following universities, in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of ichthyology and domestication studies in Thailand: Kasetsart University (Science (Fishery Biology), September 1995); Burapha University (Science, September 1995); Khon Kaen University (Science (Fisheries), July 1999); Srinakharinwirot University (Science, August 2001); Chulalongkorn University (Science, August 2001); Ubon Ratchathani University (Science (Agriculture), August 2003); King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (Science (Fisheries), March 2007); Kasetsart University (Science (Animal Science), March 2011), Chiang Mai University (Arts (Human and Environment Management), March 2011), Thammasat University (Science (Agricultural Technology), November 2012), and Mahasarakham University (Biology, December 2018).
Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess Akishino, besides the official duties and public activities alongside His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Akishino, attends events, such as the National Awards Ceremony for the Promotion of Blood Donation, in her capacity as Honorary Vice-President of the Japanese Red Cross Society. Her Imperial Highness has also been present at events at which she has met and engaged in exchanges with a wide range of participants, for instance “The Japan Prize” International Educational Program Contest, and “The Research Presentation Session of the Research Fellowship for Young Scientists – RPD (Restarted Post-Doctoral fellowship) of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science”, which supports researchers who restarted research activities after childbirth and childcare.
Her Imperial Highness assumed the role of Patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association Incorporated Foundation (JATA, currently a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) in April 1994, and is present at events such as the Anti-Tuberculosis National Convention, the Central Training Seminar for branch leaders of the National Federation of Community Women's Organizations for TB Control, and meetings with specialists who participate in international training courses on TB control. In October 2018, Her Imperial Highness attended “The 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health” held in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and was granted the title of Honorary Member of The Union from the International Tuberculosis Lung Disease Prevention Coalition (The Union).
Her Imperial Highness also assumed the role of President of “The Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-Kai” in October 2010, and attends events such as its Annual National Convention, and has visited various regions to encourage the activities of Aiiku teams. Her Imperial Highness has engaged in exchanges with professionals and volunteers actively involved in the field of Maternal and Child Health (MCH), for instance attending “The 11th International Conference on MCH Handbook” held in the Kingdom of Thailand in December 2018, and meeting the recipients of the Maternal and Child Health Meritorious Service Awards at her residence. In April 2015, Her Imperial Highness assumed the role of Honorary Patroness of the Society for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Daishoji Imperial Convent, and attends the Society’s Annual Meeting. This society preserves and perpetuates the culture of the temple, which has a deep historical relationship with the Imperial Family through the fact that the Abbess was formerly an Imperial Princess.
Her Imperial Highness continues her studies in between her official activities. Her Imperial Highness has been learning sign language since she was a student, and has been present at events as well as visited educational facilities related to persons with hearing impairments. Her Imperial Highness was nominated the Honorary Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in February 2009. In March 2013, Her Imperial Highness was granted Ph.D. in psychology from the Graduate School of Humanities and Sciences, Ochanomizu University, for her thesis titled "Knowledge, perceptions, beliefs and behaviors related to tuberculosis: A study based on questionnaire surveys with seminar participants of the National Federation of Community Women's Organizations for TB Control and female college students".
Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako reached the age of twenty in October 2011. Her Imperial Highness graduated from the Division of Arts and Sciences at the College of Liberal Arts, International Christian University in March 2014. Thereafter, Her Imperial Highness continued her studies with a postgraduate course in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and received a Master of Arts in January 2016. In April 2016, Her Imperial Highness was nominated an Affiliate Researcher of the University Museum of the University of Tokyo. Her Imperial Highness enrolled in the doctoral course of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, International Christian University Graduate School in September 2016.
Her Imperial Highness attends court ceremonies and functions at the Imperial Palace, as well as engages in official activities elsewhere. Her Imperial Highness assumed the role of Honorary Patron of the Japan Tennis Association (a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation) in October 2015, and is present at championship matches such as the All Japan Tennis Championships and the Japan Open Tennis Championships. Her Imperial Highness also assumed the role of Patron of the Japan Kōgei Association (a Public Interest Service Corporation) in June 2016, and selects the Patron’s Prize and the Prince Takamatsu Memorial Prize at the Japan Traditional Kōgei Exhibition, and attends the Presentation Ceremony. In addition, Her Imperial Highness has attended the Forest and Flower Festival – “The Green Thanksgiving Ceremony”, the National Urban Greenery Fair, and the Grand Closing Ceremony of the National Sports Festival since 2019.
Her Imperial Highness made official visits to the Republic of El Salvador and the Republic of Honduras in December 2015, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of El Salvador, and between Japan and the Republic of Honduras, to the Republic of Paraguay in September 2016, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the migration of Japanese to the Republic of Paraguay, to the Kingdom of Bhutan in May to June 2017, on the occasion of the Inauguration Ceremony of the Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition, to the Federative Republic of Brazil in July 2018, to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the migration of Japanese to the Federative Republic of Brazil, and to the Republic of Peru and the Plurinational State of Bolivia in July 2019, to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the migration of Japanese to the Republic of Peru, and to the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
Her Imperial Highness Princess Kako reached the age of twenty in December 2014. Her Imperial Highness graduated from the Division of Arts and Sciences at the College of Liberal Arts, International Christian University in March 2019.
Her Imperial Highness attends court ceremonies and functions at the Imperial Palace, as well as engages in official activities elsewhere. Regular annual appearances include being present at the speech contest of the National Institution for Youth Education, and at the National High School Student Sign Language Performance Kōshien (Championship), and attending the All-Japan High School Equestrian Competition. In addition, Her Imperial Highness attended the Presentation Ceremony for “The Sankei Children's Book Award” in 2019, to address the audience and to engage in exchanges with participants, and attended "Praising Mothers Raising Children with Hearing Impairments" in 2020, to deliver an address in sign language and to engage in exchanges with participants.
Her Imperial Highness made official visits to the Republic of Austria and to Hungary in September 2019, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Austria, and between Japan and Hungary.
His Imperial Highness Prince Hisahito graduated from Ochanomizu University Elementary School in March 2019, and entered Ochanomizu University Junior High School in April 2019.