Prince Takamatsu, Emperor Hirohito's younger brother who reportedly advised against waging war with the United States in World War II, died Tuesday of lung cancer, the Imperial Household Agency said. He was 82.
Hirohito canceled appointments and visited the prince at his bedside shortly before he died.
Takamatsu, an urbane, outgoing man who liked skiing and was a patron of the arts, was one of three younger brothers of Hirohito, 85, the world's longest reigning monarch. A minor figure in the imperial family, he stood fifth in line for the Chrysanthemum Throne.
But as an imperial navy flight instructor in World War II, he was one of the group of ranking advisers who called for an early end to the conflict. As early as November, 1941, a month before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was reported to have urged Japan to avoid a war with the United States, saying the navy was not confident of fighting more than two years.
His death leaves eight of the family's men in the lines of succession, beginning with Hirohito's eldest son, Crown Prince Akihito, 53, and Akihito's eldest son, the Oxford-educated Prince Hiro, 26.
The third of Emperor Taisho's four sons, Takamatsu--his royal name means "tall pine tree"--graduated from Japan's Naval Academy in 1924 and the Naval Staff College in 1936. He attained the rank of navy captain in 1942.
In 1940, Takamatsu married the second daughter of Duke Yoshihisa Tokugawa, the grandson of Japan's 15th and last shogun. Princess Takamatsu, who survives, is 76. The prince and his wife had no children.