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Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the death of Kikuko, Princess Takamatsu, who passed away on this day in 2004. The daughter of Yoshihisa Tokugawa and Princess Mieko of Arisugawa, she was a granddaughter of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Shōgun. Educated at the Gakushūin, in 1930, at the age of 18, she married Nobuhito, Prince Takamatsu, the third son of Emperor Taishō and Empress Teimei and a younger brother of Emperor Hirohito, making her a sister-in-law of Princess Chichibu. Prince and Princess Takamatsu soon embarked on an extended world tour, through the United States and Europe, before returning to Tokyo in June 1931. The couple had no children but by all accounts their marriage was filled with love and happiness until his death in 1987. After her mother’s death from bowel cancer, Princess Takamatsu became a champion of cancer research, establishing the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund in 1968, organizing symposia and awarding scientists for groundbreaking work. She also served as president of an organization extending relief to leprosy patient and the honorary president of the “Saiseikai” Imperial Gift Foundation Inc., Tofu Kyokai Foundation, Shadan Houjin Tokyo Jikeikai, Nichifutsu Kyokai, and Nichifutsu Kaikan, and as well as an honorary vice-president of the Japanese Red Cross Society. In 1991, Princess Takamatsu, against opposition from the Imperial Household Agency, publicly revealed a diary, written in Prince Takamatsu’s own hand between 1922 and 1947, opposing Japan’s role in the Second World War. In 2001, after becoming the oldest living member of the Imperial Family and the birth of Princess Aiko, Princess Takamatsu, became the first member of the family to publicly call for female succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Princess Takamatsu passed away from sepsis in Tokyo on this day in 2004, the last surviving member of the imperial family who was born during the Meiji period.
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