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Princesses Mako and Kako mark anniversary of the death of Empress Kojun – wife of Emperor Hirohito

Members of the Japanese royal family have marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Empress Kojun with a ceremony at the family mausoleum and imperial palace. 

The Empress, who was the wife of Emperor Hirohito and grandmother of current emperor Naruhito, died on June 16, 2000.

Sisters Princess Mako, 29, and Princess Kako, 26, the granddaughters of Emperor Naruhito, arrived at the Musashi imperial graveyard in Tokyo wearing identical dove grey dresses and trilbies, as well as coronavirus masks. 

Members of the Japanese royal family have marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Empress Kojun with a ceremony at the family mausoleum and imperial palace. Sisters Princess Mako, 29, and Princess Kako, 26, arrived at the Musashi imperial graveyard in Tokyo to pay their respects

Empress Masako, 56, the wife of the emperor, was later pictured arriving at the imperial palace in Tokyo to mark the anniversary

Empress Masako, 56, the wife of the emperor, was later pictured arriving at the imperial palace in Tokyo to mark the anniversary

Officials saluted Princess Mako and Princess Kako as they walked alongside each other up the stone steps towards the mausoleum. 

The princesses bowed after a speech was read out by a messenger sent on behalf of Emperor Naruhito. 

Empress Masako, 56, the wife of the emperor, was later pictured arriving at the imperial palace in Tokyo to mark the anniversary. 

The Empress, who was the wife of Emperor Hirihito (left) and grandmother of current emperor Naruhito, died on June 16, 2000

The Empress, who was the wife of Emperor Hirihito (left) and grandmother of current emperor Naruhito, died on June 16, 2000

The sisters were wearing identical dove grey dresses and trilbies for the solemn occasion

The sisters were wearing identical dove grey dresses and trilbies for the solemn occasion

Emperor Naruhito gave a speech to other royals, who included his younger brother, Crown Prince Fumihito and his wife Princess Kiko, according to Japanese media. 

Princesses Mako and Kako are the nieces of Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the Japanese throne after former emperor Akihito, 86, made the decision to abdicate last year. 

Since then, Princess Mako, who studied in Edinburgh, Dublin and Leicester, took on a more high-profile with a series of international engagements. 

Last summer, she went on an official visit to South America which would previously have fallen to her parents, Crown Prince and Princess Akishino.

One of the sisters was seen bowing as her sister made her way back down the steps

One of the sisters was seen bowing as her sister made her way back down the steps

The sisters also wore masks to guard against coronavirus

They paid their respects to their great-grandmother before returning down the steps

The sisters also wore masks to guard against coronavirus. They paid their respects to their great-grandmother before returning down the steps

However, Princess Mako will be forced to give up her royal title when she marries her long-term boyfriend Kei Komuro, a ‘commoner’ whom she met at university. 

In January, the Japanese royal family posed for a rare family portrait to celebrate New Year.

It marked the first time Emperor Naruhito and Emperor Emeritus Akihito were seen publicly together since the former head of state’s abdication. 

Emperor Naruhito, 59, beamed alongside his father and other senior members of the family in three photographs, which were taken early in December at the Imperial Family’s Tokyo residence.

Princesses Mako and Kako are the nieces of Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the Japanese throne after former emperor Akihito, 86, made the decision to abdicate last year

Princesses Mako and Kako are the nieces of Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the Japanese throne after former emperor Akihito, 86, made the decision to abdicate last year

The two men had not appeared together at a public occasion since Emperor Emeritus Akihito abdicated from the throne and withdrew from public life.

In one of the intimate family portraits, the group could be seen smiling as they studied 12 Zodiac ornaments on the table in front of them, including one to mark the then-upcoming year of the rat, which is associated with starting anew.  

In the photographs captured in a simple setting, the family gathered around a table which displayed ornaments representing the 12 animals in the Japanese Zodiac.

In one of the images, Emperor Naruhito gestured to the mouse ornament while his father Emperor Emeritus Akihito looked on inquisitively.    

Akihito shocked the country in 2016 when he signalled his desire to take a back seat, citing his age and health problems. 

The status of the emperor is sensitive in Japan given its 20th-century history of war waged in the name of Akihito’s father Hirohito, who died in 1989.

Akihito keenly embraced the more modern role as a symbol of the state – imposed after World War II ended. 

Previous emperors including his father had been treated as semi-divine. 

In January, the Japanese royal family posed for a rare family portrait to celebrate New Year. It marked the first time Emperor Naruhito and Emperor Emeritus Akihito were seen publicly together since the former head of state's abdication

In January, the Japanese royal family posed for a rare family portrait to celebrate New Year. It marked the first time Emperor Naruhito and Emperor Emeritus Akihito were seen publicly together since the former head of state’s abdication

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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