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Princess Aiko to Work for the Japanese Red Cross from April

After graduating from Gakushin University, Princess Aiko will be working at the Japanese Red Cross Society, which has decades of ties with the Imperial Family.



Princess Aiko entering the Imperial Estate in Akasaka, Tokyo for the New Year Reception on the afternoon of January 1.(Handout)

Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko, daughter of Their Majesties Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, will work at the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) from April. The Imperial Household Agency made the announcement on January 22, stating that she would work as a contract employee. 

Princess Aiko is currently a senior at the Faculty of Letters at Gakushuin University, majoring in Japanese language and literature. She submitted her graduation thesis in December 2023.

Empress Masako has served as Honorary President of the JRCS since May 2019. In October 2023, Princess Aiko and Their Majesties visited the headquarters of the JRCS in Minato Ward, Tokyo. The purpose of their visit was to see a special exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake. At one point, Princess Aiko asked a representative about the organization's activities during disasters.

At his birthday press conference in February 2023, Emperor Naruhito expressed his hopes for Princess Aiko. "I hope she can broaden her perspective and deepen her own thinking through various experiences," he said. 

Princess Aiko wore a tiara for the first time at the New Year Reception on the morning of January 1 in the Matsu-no-Ma (State Room) of the Imperial Palace. (Handout)

The Imperial Family and JRCS

On January 22, Princess Aiko spoke about her decision to work for the JRCS in a statement released through the agency.

"I am happy to be involved in the work of the JRCS, an organization I have always been interested in. At the same time, I also feel a great sense of responsibility," the statement read. 

Since her coming of age in 2021, Princess Aiko has prioritized university life and studies. Off-campus, she has also been experiencing life as an adult member of the Imperial Family. 

Relations between the JRCS and the Imperial Family go back many years. This means expectations are high for Princess Aiko to be able to balance her work with her official duties. 


Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako also delivered an official statement on their daughter's decision through the agency on January 22. 

Their Majesties indicated their joy, saying, "We are grateful that the JRCS has accepted Aiko as a contract employee. As she begins her work this spring, we hope she will continue to endeavor to serve many people. We also hope that she will grow as a member of society."

Empress Masako, the Honorary President

Princess Aiko held her first news conference since becoming an adult at the Imperial Palace in March 2021. Before the press, she touched on her plans after graduating from university. "At this point, I have not yet decided what I would like to do," she admitted. However, she said, "I hope to be able to decide as I expand my knowledge and deepen my interests throughout my future college life." 

Princess Aiko has chosen to work for the JRCS, of which her mother, the Empress, is the honorary president. Ties between the JRC and the Imperial Family run deep. Successive empresses have supported the organization's activities since the Meiji era. Emperor Hirohito's wife, Empress Nagako, and Empress Emerita Michiko also served as honorary presidents. Princess Yoko of Mikasa also worked at JRCS from December 2006 to November 2012.

Empress Masako receiving the Order of Merit at the 2023 National Red Cross Convention. Also pictured (left to right): Crown Princess Kiko, Princess Hanako, Princess Nobuko, and Princess Hisako. Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, May 18, 2023. (Handout)

Interest in Welfare Activities

During her visit to the JRCS headquarters in 2023, Princess Aiko stopped before an exhibit on the Empress Shoken Fund. Emperor Meiji's wife, Empress Dowager Shoken, established the fund in 1912. Turning to the guide, Princess Aiko asked eagerly, "How widespread was tuberculosis at the time?" 

This was not the first time in 2023 that the princess had accompanied her parents in JRCS affairs. She was also present in May when Their Majesties received a briefing from the JRCS president on its activities for the year. Knowing their daughter's interest in welfare activities, Their Majesties encouraged Princess Aiko to attend the meeting.

Other Imperial Family Members

JRCS is a licensed, neutral humanitarian aid organization. In addition to Princess Aiko, many other members of the Imperial Family have worked for outside organizations. Prince Norihito, a cousin of Emperor Emeritus Akihito, had worked for the Japan Foundation since 1984. Another cousin of Emperor Akihito, Prince Yoshihito, worked for NHK as a contract employee from 1974 to 1985. 

A more recent example is Mako Komuro, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and Crown Princess Kiko. In April 2016, she received a special research position at the University of Tokyo's University Museum. 

Until her marriage in 2021, she worked three days a week at Intermediatheque (IMT), a museum in Marunouchi, Tokyo. The Crown Prince and Princess' second daughter, Princess Kako, has been working as a part-time contract employee for the Japan Federation of the Deaf since May 2021.



(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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