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Japanese royals on Oahu to help mark immigration anniversary


    Japan’s Prince Akishino, left, and Princess Kiko greeted members of the Hawaii Meiji Kai and United Japanese Society of Hawaii on Monday at Makiki Cemetery. Princess Kiko reached out to 1-year-old Hironori Tsujihara, who was in the arms of his mother, Yoshiko.

Prince Akishino, the second son of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, and his wife, Princess Kiko, are in Hawaii on their first official visit together to the U.S.

The Japanese royal couple is here this week as part of a yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants arriving in the islands.

“For the Japanese-American community in Hawaii, as well as the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, it is truly an honor,” said Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the JCCH. “We’re very excited to have the prince and princess join us as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the very first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.”

Akishino and Kiko laid a wreath Monday at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in remembrance of soldiers who died during World War II and the Vietnam War, and visited the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park, which commemorates Japanese lives lost when a U.S. submarine collided with a Japanese ship in 2001.

Today the royal couple will visit the JCCH and the Honolulu Museum of Art, plant a tree at Thomas Square and attend dinner with Gov. David Ige.

Emperor Akihito announced in December that he would abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne at the end of April 2019, after reigning for 30 years. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, is expected to succeed the following day. Akishino, 52, would then take on the role of crown prince.

Akihito has one daughter, Sayako Kuroda, who married a commoner and gave up her title of princess. Women are not allowed to ascend to Japan’s throne.

Star-Advertiser reporter Nina Wu contributed to this report.

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