While many royals have reached their nineties, few members of reigning royal families have lived to celebrate their 100th birthday, but today the Emperor of Japan's uncle Takahito, Prince Mikasa reaches this milestone.
Born in Tokyo on 2 December 1915, Prince Takahito is the fourth and youngest son of Emperor Yoshihito and thus a brother of Emperor Hirohito. In 1941, he married Yuriko Takagi, who bore him three sons and two daughters. He was given the title Prince Mikasa on his twentieth birthday in 1935, but sadly the Mikasa branch of the imperial house will become extinct upon his death as all his three sons have died before him without leaving any sons. His two daughters are however still alive, although not members of the imperial house since their marriages, and he is also a grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of four.
During the Second World War, Prince Mikasa served with the Japanese army and was posted to China. He later claimed he had not fully understood he crimes committed by Japan, and in 1945 he urged his brother Hirohito to take responsibility by abdicating in favour of Crown Prince Akihito, but the USA insisted on keeping Hirohito on the throne.
After the war, Prince Mikasa studied archaeology, Middle Eastern studies and Semitic languages at the University of Tokyo and became a scholar of ancient Oriental history. Although he had heart surgery three years ago and is now in a wheelchair, the centenarian is said to be in good health for his age. "Nothing will change just because I turn 100 years old", the Prince says in a statement released by the imperial court today. "I'd like to spend my days pleasantly and peacefully while praying for the happiness of people around the world and thanking my wife, Yuriko, who has been supporting me for more than 70 years".