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Princess Aiko of Japan set for big change as she celebrates 20th birthday

The royal is Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's only child

Princess Aiko of Japan will start taking on royal duties now that she has reached the age of maturity.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's only child celebrated her 20th birthday on Wednesday 1 December.

The princess is anticipated to participate in formal coming of age ceremonies on 5 December, where she will be awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Precious Crown by the Emperor. Typically, princesses in the Imperial Family receive a new tiara on their 20th birthday, but Aiko will reportedly receive her paternal aunt's Sayako, formerly Princess Nori's tiara instead.

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Aiko is currently studying Japanese language and literature at Gakushuin University in Tokyo. She was born on 1 December 2001 and holds an imperial title, Princess Toshi, which means "a person who respects others".

At present, only direct male-line males are allowed to ascend the throne, which means that Emperor Naruhito's younger brother, Fumihito, Prince Akishino, is the heir.

In 2005, experts recommended that Imperial succession law be amended to permit Aiko to rule in her own right.

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Emperor Naruhito and Princess Aiko pictured in 2019

But in 2006, Emperor Naruhito's younger brother, Prince Akishino welcomed a son, Prince Hisahito, with his wife, Princess Kiko. He is now set to become Emperor after his uncle, Naruhito, and his father, Prince Akishino.

According to the Imperial Household Law of 1947, female members must renounce their titles and membership of the Imperial Family upon marriage.  

The Emperor's niece, Mako Komuro, formerly Princess Mako of Akishino, gave up her Imperial title and left the Imperial Family, following her marriage to paralegal, Kei Komuro, in October. The couple now reside in New York in the United States.  

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