TOKYO Ė Prince Takahito Mikasa, uncle of the emperor of Japan and the oldest member of the imperial family, died at the age of 100 years on Thursday.
The prince was admitted to a Tokyo hospital in mid-May due to acute pneumonia, and was in and out of the hospital several times because of this disease and heart problems, sources from the Japanís Imperial Household told local broadcaster NHK.
The prince was the younger brother of the late Emperor Hirohito.
Last December, he became the first member of the Japanese imperial family to turn 100 years old since the country opened to the West in the 19th century.
He was born on Dec. 2, 1915 and served in the Cavalry Regiment during World War II after graduating from a military academy. He later studied oriental history at the University of Tokyo.
In 1941, he married Princess Yuriko Mikasa, who turned 93 in late June.
The prince was known as a scholar of ancient Oriental history and served as honorary president of the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan and the Japan-Turkey Society.
The uncle of Emperor Akihito underwent heart surgery in 2012, but had been in good health after recovering from the surgery until his hospitalization this year.
The prince lived with his wife at his Tokyo residence and among his hobbies, he enjoyed watching sumo wrestling on television.
His last public appearance was in January when he was seen on the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo with his wife while the emperor delivered his traditional New Year message addressed to the Japanese people.