The prince was born on 30 November 1965 at Imperial Household Agency Hospital in Tokyo. His given name is Fumihito. His mother, Empress Michiko, is a Shinto convert from Roman Catholicism. His childhood appellation was Prince Aya (礼宮 Aya-no-miya). He attended the elementary and secondary departments of the Gakushuin.
In April 1984, he entered the Law Department of Gakushuin University, where he studied law and biology. After graduating from the university with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science, he studied the taxonomy of fish at St John's College, Oxford in the United Kingdom from October 1988 to June 1990.
Upon the death of his grandfather, Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito), in January 1989, he became second-in-line to the throne after his elder brother, Crown Prince Naruhito.
Prince Fumihito received a PhD degree in ornithology from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in October 1996. His doctoral dissertation was titled, "Molecular Phylogeny of Jungle Fowls, genus Gallus and Monophyletic Origin of Domestic Fowls". He conducted field research in Indonesia in 1993 and 1994, in Yunnan Province in the People's Republic of China. When the current Emperor was still Crown Prince, he introduced tilapia to Thailand as an important source of protein. Tilapia can be easily cultured and Prince Fumihito, who is also known as "catfish specialist," has managed to maintain and expand the aquacultural studies with the people of Thailand.
Prior to Fumihito's birth, the announcement about the-then Crown Prince Akihito's engagement and marriage to the then-Ms. Michiko Shōda had drawn opposition from traditionalist groups, because Shōda came from a Roman Catholic family. Although Shōda was never baptized, she was educated in Catholic schools and seemed to share the faith of her parents. Rumors also speculated that Empress Kōjun had opposed the engagement. After the death of Fumihito's paternal-grandmother Empress Kōjun in 2000, Reuters reported that she was one of the strongest opponents of her son's marriage, and that in the 1960s, she had driven her daughter-in-law and grandchildren to depression by persistently accusing her of not being suitable for her son.
On 29 June 1990, Prince Fumihito married Kiko Kawashima, the daughter of Tatsuhiko Kawashima (professor of economics at Gakushuin University) and his wife, Kazuyo.
The couple met when they were both undergraduates at Gakushuin. Like his father, the present Emperor, the Prince married outside the former aristocracy and former collateral branches of the imperial family. Upon marriage, he received the title Prince Akishino (Akishino-no-miya – strictly "Prince Akishino") and authorization from the Imperial Household Economy Council to form a new branch of the Imperial Family. The marriage was bitterly resented by officials at the Imperial Household Agency, as well as Prince Akishino's paternal-grandmother Empress Dowager Nagako.
Prince and Princess Akishino have two daughters and one son:Princess Mako (眞子内親王, Mako Naishinnō, born 23 October 1991)
Princess Kako (佳子内親王, Kako Naishinnō, born 29 December 1994)
Prince Hisahito (悠仁親王, Hisahito Shinnō, born 6 September 2006)
Since the third child is male, he is in the direct line of succession to the Imperial Throne and is likely to eventually succeed to the throne, unless Hisahito's uncle, Crown Prince Naruhito, produces a male heir, or the succession laws are changed (see succession controversy).
Prince Akishino serves as the president of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology and the Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums. He is also the honorary president of the World Wide Fund for Nature Japan, the Japan Tennis Association, and the Japan-Netherlands Association. He is a visiting professor of Tokyo University of Agriculture.
Prince and Princess Akishino also foster friendly relations with foreign countries by representing Japan at select international events. For example, they traveled to the Netherlands in August 2009 to commemorate 400 years of trade between the Netherlands and Japan. They were invited by the Dutch government and were hosted by Queen Beatrix in The Hague. Their public activities included meeting Japanese language students, visiting the Siebold House, a university hospital, and two other museums. At the Dutch National Archives, they attended the opening of a major exhibition of Japan-related material, "From Here to Tokyo, 400 Years of Trade with Japan"; they were accompanied by Dutch Princess Laurentien who lived and studied in Japan in her youth. In addition, this official visit also included talks with the Dutch prime minister.
In addition, Prince Akishino carried out public duties on behalf of the Emperor when he was hospitalized. He and other members of the imperial family visited the affected areas after the Great East Japan earthquake in March 2011.
Prince Akishino is a big fan of the Beatles and an avid tennis player. As a student, Fumihito ranked among the top ten doubles tennis players in the Kantō Region.
He is also known as a successor to Arisugawa school of calligraphy.30 November 1965 – 29 June 1990: His Imperial Highness The Prince Aya
29 June 1990 – present: His Imperial Highness The Prince Akishino
Japan: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum
Belgium: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown
Italy: Knigth Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Netherlands: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown
Peru: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun
Spain: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
Sweden: Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star
Honorary degree (Kasetsart University, 1995)
Honorary degree (Burapha University, 1995)
Honorary degree (Khon Kaen University, 1999)
Honorary degree (Chulalongkorn University, 2001)
Honorary degree (Srinakharinwirot University, 2001)
Honorary degree (Ubon Ratchathani University, 2003)
Honorary degree (King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, 2007)
Honorary degree (Chiang Mai University, 2011)
Honorary degree (Kasetsart University, 2011)
Honorary degree (Thammasat University, 2012)
Reserve Member of the Imperial House Council
President of Yamashina Institute for Ornithology
President of Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Patron of the Society for the Protection of Mitera Sennyuji (Mitera Sennyuji is the temple in which the Imperial memorial tablets are enshrined)
Patron of the Social Welfare Organization "Saiseikai" Imperial Gift Foundation Inc.
Honorary President of World Wide Fund for Nature Japan
Honorary Patron of Japan Tennis Association
Honorary Patron of the Japan-Netherlands Society
Honorary Patron of Association for All Nippon Gourd Fanciers
Honorary President of Japan Water Prize Committee
Honorary President of the Waksman Foundation of Japan INC
Honorary Vice President of the Siam Society
Researcher Extraordinary of the University Museum, the University of Tokyo
Guest Professor of the Tokyo University of Agriculture
Visiting Researcher of the Center for the Promotion of Integrated Sciences, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies