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Thursday, 27th October 2016
In General Japan News,

Prince Mikasa dies aged 100

Japan's Prince Mikasa has passed away aged 100, the Imperial Household Agency has confirmed.

The prince was the oldest member of the Imperial family, and was one of five remaining heirs to the throne. Now, just four heirs are left, several of whom are in later life, raising questions as to the future of the crown.

Indeed, the Japan Times reports that the shortage of young male heirs is a potential concern, with Crown Prince Naruhito at 56 years of age, Prince Akishino, 50, and Prince Hitachi, 80. Prince Hisahito, meanwhile, is ten. 

Currently, the government is looking into whether public duties can be reduced for Emperor Akihito, 82, who has suggested he may wish to abdicate owing to his age.

Born on December 2nd 1915, the prince served as an officer of the Imperial Army in China during the 1937-1945 Sino-Japanese war. 

A figurehead for peace, Prince Mikasa was critical of Japanese aggression during the war. Once the conflict was over, he stressed the importance of peace, and continued to do so throughout his life. 

He was also a scholar of ancient Oriental history, and honorary president of the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan and the Japan-Turkey Society.

Committed to history, he was known for opposing campaigns in the 1950s to make February 11th a national day of holiday. According to legend, this is when Emperor Jimmu first ascended the throne, but Prince Mikasa highlighted that there was no historical evidence for this date, the Japan Times explains. 

According to media reports, the prince was initially hospitalised in May, suffering from pneumonia. While it is believed he recovered, it is thought that the illness weakened his heart, which contributed to his death at St Luke's International Hospital.

He is survived by his wife, Princess Yuriko, aged 93.

Last month, the youngest heir and then third in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne, Prince Hisahito, turned ten.

Related news stories:
Crown Prince urges Emperor Akihito to 'reduce burden' (24th February 2012)
Prince William arrives in Japan (26th February 2015)