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Kikuko, Princess Takamatsu

1930
Born December 26, 1911(1911-12-26)
Tokyo, Japan
Died December 18, 2004 (aged 92)
Tokyo, Japan
Title Princess Takamatsu
Spouse(s) Nabuhito
Children None
Relatives Yoshihisa Tokugawa and Princess Mieko of Arisugawa
Imperial House of Japan
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg


HIH The Prince Mikasa
HIH The Princess Mikasa

Princess Takamatsu (Kikuko) of Japan, (Japanese: 宣仁親王妃喜久子, romanized Nobuhito Shinnō-hi Kikuko) (26 December 1911–18 December 2004), known informally as Princess Kikuko, was a member of the Japanese imperial family. The Princess was the widow of Prince Takamatsu (Nobuhito), the third son of the Emperor Taishō and the Empress Teimei. She was, therefore, a sister-in-law of the Shōwa Emperor and an aunt of the present Emperor, HIM Akihito. She was mainly known for philanthropic activities, particular her patronage of cancer research organizations. At the time of her death, Princess Takamatsu was the oldest member of the Imperial Family.

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Early life

The future Princess was born in Tokyo on 26 December 1911, as Tokugawa Kikuko. She was the second daughter of Prince Tokugawa Yoshihisa (2 September 1884 - 22 January 1922) (peer) and his wife Mieko (14 February 1891 - 25 April 1933). Her paternal grandfather was Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Japan's last shogun. Her maternal grandfather, Prince Arisugawa (Takehito), was the seventh head of the Arisugawa-no-miya, one of the four shinnōke or collateral branches of the Imperial Family during the Edo period entitled to provide a successor to the throne in default of a direct heir. Lady Tokugawa Kikuko received her primary and secondary education at the then-girls' department of the Gakushuin. At age eighteen, she became engaged to Prince Takamastu, who was then third-in-line to the Chrysanthemum throne.

Marriage

On 4 February 1930, she married Prince Takamatsu at the Kokyo Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The couple had no children. Shortly after the wedding, Prince and Princess Takamatsu embarked upon a world tour, partly to return the courtesies shown to them by King George V of the United Kingdom in sending a mission to Tokyo to present Emperor Shōwa with the Order of the Garter. The Prince and Princess returned to Japan in June 1931 and took up residence in Takanawa in Minato, Tokyo. A photo of them on the Chichibu Maru which left San Francisco on May 28, 1931 can be seen at http://www.cpprovince.org/archives/gallery/mysteryphotos/japanese-ship.html.

Following her mother's death from bowel cancer in 1933, Princess Takamatsu became champion of cancer research. Using money donated by the public, she established the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund in 1968, organizing symposia and awarding scientists for groundbreaking work. She also served as president of an organization extending relief to Hansen's disease patients. The Princess also served as the honorary president of the "Saiseikai" Imperial Gift Foundation Inc., Tofu Kyokai Foundation, Shadan Houjin Tokyo Jikeikai, Nichifutsu Kyokai, and Nichifutsu Kaikan, and as an honorary vice-president of the Japan Red Cross Society.

Princess Takamatsu with her husband in Berlin around 1930

Unconventional frankness

In 1991, Princess Takamatsu and an aide discovered a twenty-volume diary, written in Prince Takamatsu's own hand between 1934 and 1947. Despite opposition from the Imperial Household Agency, she gave the diary to the magazine Chūōkōron which published excerpts in 1995. The diary revealed that Prince Takamatsu had opposed the Kwantung Army's incursions in Manchuria in September 1931, the expansion of the July 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident into a full-scale war against China and had warned in November 1941 his brother Hirohito that the Navy could not fight more than two years against United States.

After the death of her sister-in-law, Empress Kōjun, in 2000, Princess Takamatsu became the oldest member of the Imperial Family. In 2002, after Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako had a daughter, the ninety-year-old princess was the first member of the Imperial Family to publicly call for changes to the 1947 Imperial Household Law, which limits the succession to the Chrysanthemum throne to legitimate males in the male line of descent. In an article she wrote for a women's magazine, she argued that having a female tennō was "not unnatural" since women had assumed the throne in the past, most recently in the eighteenth century.

Princess Takamatsu died of blood poisoning at St. Luke's Medical Center in Tokyo on 18 December 2004. She had been in and out of the hospital with various ailments during the last decade of her life. Her funeral was held on 26 December at Toshimagaoka cemetery in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward.

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