The Emperor’s goby researches

His Majesty the Emperor of Japan has an interest in goby taxonomy. Because this is part of the Emperor’s private life, it is not a subject of huge interest in Japan, although it gets a prominent mention in his Wikipedia biography. The Imperial Household Agency has compiled a list of his scientific papers on the subject. Here are some key points:

  1. His Majesty’s first article about gobies appeared in 1963, when he was Prince Akihito.
  2. In the researches, His Majesty displays fluency in English and a good grasp of French.
  3. The research, especially the single-author papers published in the 1960s and 1970s, shows that His Majesty grasped problems of goby taxonomy well, and introduced new methods of systematizing goby species which were controversial but have been proven correct by the test of time.
  4. His Majesty assisted in naming the following new species: Pandaka trimaculata (1975), Glossogobius aureus (1975), Glossogobius sparsipapillus (1976), Cristatogobius aurimaculatus (2000), and Cristatogobius rubripectoralis (2003). All of these papers were jointly authored.
  5. In 1992, Science magazine invited him to contribute an article on “early cultivators of science in Japan“.
  6. In the 1990s, two goby species were named after him: Exyrias akihito and Platygobiopsis akihito.
  7. In 2007, a goby genus was named after him, in the family Sicydiinae. It contains the species Akihito vanuatu and Akihito futuna. The authors comment: “The new genus name honors Emperor Akihito for his many contributions to goby systematics and phylogenetic research and is deļ¬ned here as a masculine noun.”
  8. His Majesty displays an interest in taxonomy generally and the history of science in Japan, and wrote a quite readable English lecture on the subject in 2007.
  9. In 2008, the National Science Museum published a paper on tanuki at the Imperial Palace, which His Majesty coauthored; but I do not see that he had much to do with the research here, as opposed to the goby papers.

I think there is an interesting point to be made in the fact that Prince Charles has spent his free time designing and marketing a line of homeopathic sugar pills while Prince Akihito made legitimate contributions to science.

Posted: February 17th, 2012 | Japan 1 Comment »

One Comment on “The Emperor’s goby researches”

  1. 1 farmer said at 7:22 am on March 5th, 2012:

    Interesting post! Emperor Hirohito was also an avid naturalist. In our area we have a few memorial obelisks from when he visited to see Minakata Kumagusu and went hunting for slime molds and other interesting specimens.