Yoshihito (嘉仁), the Taishō Emperor (大正天皇), (August 31, 1879 - December 25, 1926, r. 1912-1926), was the 123rd Emperor of Japan. He was the surviving son of Emperor Meiji by Yanagiwara Naruko, a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Palace. Emperor Meiji's consort, Empress Shoken (Haruko), was officially regarded as his mother. He received the personal name of Yoshihito and the title Haru no miya (Prince Haru) from the emperor on September 6, 1879. He was officially declared heir apparent on August 31, 1887 and had his formal investiture as crown prince on November 3, 1888.
On May 25, 1900, Crown Prince Yoshihito married then 16-year-old Sadako, the daughter of Prince Kujo Mitchitaka [peer], the head of the five senior branches of the Fujiwara clan, and had issue:
- The future Emperor Showa (Hirohito), (April 29, 1901 - January 7, 1989); married Princess Nagako (March 6, 1903 - June 16, 2000), eldest daughter of Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi; and had issue.
- Prince Chichibu (Yasuhito), (May 26, 1902 - January 4, 1953); married September 28, 1928 Miss Matsudaira Setsuko (September 9, 1909 - August 25, 1995), eldest daughter of Mr. Matsudaira Tsuneo, sometime Japanese ambassador to Britain and the United States, and imperial household minister; no issue.
- Prince Takamatsu (Nobuhito), (March 1, 1905 - February 3, 1987); married February 4, 1930 Tokugawa Kikuko (December 26, 1911 - December 18, 2004), second daughter of Prince Tokugawa Yoshihisa [peer]; no issue.
- Prince Mikasa (Takahito), (born December 2, 1915); married October 22, 1941 Yuriko (born June 6, 1923), second daughter of Viscount Takagi Masanori.
Yoshihito had contracted meningitis shortly after birth, leaving him in poor health both physically and mentally. (There are also rumors of lead poisoning.) He was kept out of view from the public as much as possible, even after his ascension to the throne in 1912. On one of the rare occasions he was seen in public, the 1913 opening of the Diet, he famously rolled his prepared speech into a telescope and stared at the assembly through it instead of reading it. After 1919, he undertook no official duties, and Hirohito was named Prince Regent in 1921.
Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son, Hirohito.
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