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Eldest Son, Wife to Inherit Hirohito’s Property

May 2, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ Emperor Akihito and his mother, the empress dowager, will be the only heirs of the late Emperor Hirohito in order to keep together the royal treasures, news reports said today.

Kyodo News Service said the Imperial Household Agency asked nine other imperial successors to waive their rights of inheritance.

The palace declined comment, however, saying a public announcement now would be premature.

Hirohito, Japan’s emperor for 62 years, died Jan. 7 at age 87. Akihito, his eldest son, succeeded him and Hirohito’s wife, Nagako, became empress dowager.

Under Japanese law, legal heirs to property must claim their inheritance within six months of the owner’s death. This would mean by July 7 in Hirohito’s case, and the tax administration office must announce the claims within four months.

It will be the first public accounting of the imperial family’s private finances since shortly after World War II. The government reported then that the imperial family’s wealth amounted to the equivalent of about $113,000.

Such things as three sacred treasures - a mirror, sword and jewels handed down from emperor to emperor - are tax-exempt, and the family owns no land. But bank savings, stocks and bonds under Hirohito’s name and paintings are subject to inheritance taxes.

Kyodo said the palace will donate the art works to the government and continue to use them as government-owned imperial property. The land where the imperial family lives is owned by the government.

The imperial family, formerly exempt from taxes, was the wealthiest family in Japan until U.S. forces occupying this country after the war forced it to give up most of its property. Its wealth, including real estate, stocks and bonds, reportedly amounted to about $29 million before it surrendered most of its holdings to the government.

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