Emperor Akihito and co-authors of an encyclopedic work on fish species in Japan celebrated publication of the latest illustrated set of volumes at an event held in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district on April 22.
Nineteen Japanese ichthyology taxonomists, including the emperor, contributed to "Fishes of Japan with Pictorial Keys to the Species, Third Edition" (Tokai University Press), a scientific encyclopedia of all fish species that inhabit fresh water and coastal seas of Japan.
The three-volume work, with some 2,500 pages, was edited by Kyoto University professor Tetsuji Nakabo.
"We are convinced that the book will present the precise status of fish species that inhabit Japan and the rest of East Asia and provide basic and valuable insight into biogeography, fisheries science and environmental protection studies," Nakabo told the celebratory event on behalf of all the contributors.
Nakabo said that the emperor, who is a member of the Ichthyological Society of Japan, has authored a section on "Suborder Gobioidei" since the first edition was published in 1993. The 518 goby species, presented in the approximately 350-page section, includes the mudskipper and the elegant firefish, which Akihito himself discovered and Empress Michiko had a role in naming. The section carries some 500 illustrations, including some drawn by the emperor himself, to describe the characteristics and morphology of the species.
Nakabo said he paid monthly visits, for four years through January, to the Biological Laboratory on the grounds of the Imperial Palace for discussions with Akihito and three staff members of the Biological Laboratory who co-authored the book.
"Whenever a small ambiguity arose, His Majesty would say, 'Why not take a look at the specimens?' and scrutinize the real fish," Nakabo said. "And he would say, 'OK, that was it,' after making careful confirmations."
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