George Tupou V, the king of the some 176 islands of Tonga in the southern Pacific ocean, died at the age of 63 in a hospital in Hong Kong, Japan on Sunday.
In a Monday radio address to the Tongan nation the Prime Minister of Tonga Lord Siale’ataonga Tu’ivakano announced the kings death occurred while visiting Japan.
Though no cause of death was given, last yea, King Tupou had a kidney removed in the United States due to the discovery of a tumor. Matangi Tonga an online newspaper reported that the King had leukemia and died as a result of it.
PM Tu’ivakano said information for a funeral would be later released and the hire to the throne and his younger brother, Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka was at his side when he passed.
According to a Tongan government spokesman, Paula Mau, king Tupou was on a long trip since November traveling through Europe and had looked fine in recent photo’s.
Topou V had reigned over Tonga as king for only a short time after his father, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, died in 2006. He was never married and had one daughter out of wedlock. He was recognised as a descendant of the sky god Tangeroa.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the king’s death was the loss of “a great friend” to Australia and pointed to the change he led Tonga through as the “first truly democratic elections, held in November 2010, set the country on a new course.”