At 3:35 PM on Wednesday, Prince Tomohito of Mikasa passed away in a Chiyoda Ward hospital in Tokyo. The cousin of Emperor Akihito, 66 year old Prince Tomohito had long suffered from a struggle with alcoholism, and his official cause of death is being reported as multiple organ failure, specifically of the liver. He had been hospitalized since last December, and in March underwent cancer-related surgery for the 16th time.
Prince Tomohito was the son of the youngest brother to the Showa Emperor, and stood sixth in the Imperial family line to become emperor. He had undergone numerous operations related to cancer since 1991, including one for throat cancer in 2010. His daughter, Princess Akiko, was notified earlier today. Currently researching art in Europe, the princess immediately cut her trip short to come be with her father. She was told that her father had been vomiting blood since late last week, due to complications in his throat.
As the first member in the Imperial House of Japan to grow a full beard since the Meiji Emperor, Prince Tomohito was affectionately given the nickname of the “bearded prince” by the public. It is still unknown if Princess Akiko was able to make it back to Tokyo in time to be with her father.