December 18, 2004 by

Princess Kikuko

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Categories: Royalty

Princess Kikuko, the oldest member of the Japanese royal family and the aunt of Emperor Akihito, died on Dec. 18 of blood poisoning. She was 92.
Kikuko was the granddaughter of Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the last shogun of the Edo period (1603-1868). A woman with modern ideals, Kikuko graduated from Gakushuin Women’s College before marrying Prince Takamatsu, a son of Emperor Taisho, in 1930.
Kikuko became a champion of cancer research in 1933 when her mother, Mieko Tokugawa, died of the disease. The following year, she began donating radium, a substance used in cancer treatment, to the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research. In 1968, Kikuko established the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund, a trust that allocates public monies to groundbreaking cancer research. Despite these efforts, her husband died of lung cancer in 1987.
Prince Takamatsu’s diaries were found four years after his death. The 20 volumes included personal commentary about the royal family and criticism of the military establishment before and during World War II. Although the Imperial Household Agency asked her to keep the diaries private, Kikuko allowed them to be published in an eight-volume set (“Takamatsunomiya Nikki”) in 1995.
To honor the birth of Princess Aiko in December 2001, Kikuko published an article in a Japanese women’s magazine that called for a change in succession rules to allow a female Imperial family member to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She was the first member of the royal family to publicly request such reform.

One Response to Princess Kikuko

  1. kunaicho-hater

    A strong, frank, a thoroughly moderm woman in a very traditional, and most times chauvinistic, environment.
    Not even the Imperial Household Agency could control her. She will be missed.

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