Prince Katsura, a cousin of Emperor Akihito, died of acute heart failure at a Tokyo hospital at 10:55 a.m. Sunday, the Imperial Household Agency said. He was 66.
The prince was taken to the University of Tokyo Hospital in a critical condition earlier in the day, the agency said.
He has been in and out of hospital in recent years due to illnesses such as blood poisoning and possible infectious diseases since suffering an acute subdural hematoma, a condition in which blood gathers around or inside the brain, in 1988.
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko said farewell to U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday morning before his departure from Tokyo to South Korea, the second destination of his four-nation Asian tour.
Around 9:30 a.m. 12:30 a.m. GMT, the Imperial couple visited a Tokyo hotel where Obama was staying. The Emperor and the Empress shook hands with him, and they had a 15-minute conversation in Obamas room at the hotel.
When the couple were leaving the hotel, Obama said that he very much appreciates the great hospitality he received during his stay in the Japanese capital and that U.S. citizens feel deep affection for the Emperor and the Empress, as well as the people of Japan.
During the talks in the hotel room, the Emperor told Obama, “I hope your stay in Japan was comfortable and fruitful,” according to Imperial Household Agency officials.
Obama responded that he believes the two nations can pass the bonds of friendship from current to future generations by continuing personnel exchanges, the officials said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy took a 500 kph ride on a maglev train at the Yamanashi Maglev Test Center of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai).
Abe invited Kennedy as U.S. President Barack Obama plans to introduce a high-speed railway network in the United States. Abe hopes Japan will be the nation offering the maglev technology that helps create that network.
Abe is also offering the same technology to other nations.
Japan announced Tuesday a set of measures to punish Russia for intervening in Ukraine over the independence of its Crimea region, including suspension of talks for easing visa issuance conditions.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement the sanctions also include freezing the planned launch of talks for an investment accord as well as for bilateral agreements on ensuring peaceful use of space and preventing dangerous military activities, without elaborating.
Japan has urged Russia not to annex Crimea and to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, saying the region’s weekend referendum was illegal despite an overwhelming majority voting in favor of joining Russia.
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on Friday expressed eagerness to hold discussions with other ministers and government agencies about what is behind the recent trouble in the “bitcoin” virtual currency market.
“We do not clearly know what bitcoins are, so we have to start studying it,” Aso said at a press conference, referring to the sudden shutdown earlier this week of all transactions on Mt. Gox, a major bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo.
Aso added there is a group in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that is studying the bitcoin market.
Obama is due to meet with the leaders of all four nations, and plans to address diplomatic, economic and security issues, the White House said. In early October he shelved plans to visit Malaysia and the Philippines and attend regional summits in Indonesia and Brunei because of a U.S. government shutdown.
Political analysts said at the time that while the cancellation was understandable given events in the United States, it projected an unflattering image of the United States as politically and economically volatile and ceded the international stage to China.
Efforts to relocate a Marine air base that has been a longstanding irritant in ties between Japan and the United States suffered a new setback on Sunday when voters in a small Okinawan city re-elected a leftist mayor who promised to block construction of a replacement site.
The victory for the mayor of Nago, Susumu Inamine, dealt an embarrassing blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has invested his political capital in efforts to restart the long-stalled relocation deal, and who seemed to achieve a breakthrough last month by gaining the support of Okinawa’s governor.
Mr. Abe, a conservative, has vowed to build closer ties with the United States at a time when both nations face growing challenges from a militarily resurgent China and a nuclear-armed North Korea.
Japan’s Emperor Akihito released his New Year’s message on Wednesday. He reveals deep concern for people affected by the 2011 disaster.
The Emperor cited those who cannot return home due to radioactive contamination. He also mentions evacuees spending the severe winter in temporary housing.
The Emperor says many Japanese have faced difficulties and hardships in 2013. He hopes people will help each other. He adds that Japanese should work with others around the world to pursue peace and a better future.
The Emperor and Empress plan to work on strengthening relations between Japan and other nations this year.
Vietnam’s head of state will visit Japan in March. Arrangements are being made for US President Barack Obama to come to Japan in April.
The Emperor and Empress and other Imperial family members will make a New Years appearance before well-wishers at the Imperial Palace on Thursday.
Japan’s Emperor Akihito, marking his 80th birthday Monday, expressed gratitude to people working hard on the country’s development.
Speaking at a press conference, the Emperor said he is “happy to spend every day with a sense of gratitude” to those who have been so far supporting Japan and are now working in various ways for the country’s improvement and development.
He said what strikes him most over the past 80 years is World War II. The tremendous loss of lives is “very painful,” he said, while expressing gratitude to those who worked hard for postwar reconstruction.