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Emperor Akihito Turns 78

Reflections for 2011.

Emperor Akihito, with Empress Michiko, delivers his speech before
cheering crowd during his 78th birthday at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, December 23, 2011
Emperor Akihito of Japan celebrates 78th birthday on June 23. Since his ascension to the Chrysanthemum throne which is considered as the oldest existing monarchy in the world, the Japanese has never lost their reverence and respect to the emperor who remains their source of strength and unity. Amidst the merriment and cheers, the 78th year old monarch mirrors on the year that was 2011, not only for himself or for his reign, but also for the Japanese people.

Looking back on this year, I must say this has been a truly distressing year, dominated by disasters,” His Majesty said.

However it has been encouraging to note that the people in the afflicted areas are enduring the harsh conditions in evacuation and that many people are volunteering to support the victims. I feel that the Japanese people have come together as a nation to squarely face the disaster and do what they can to be of help for the victims.”

The Emperor reflects on massive the East Earthquake, that stuck March 11 and led to massive tsunami that left more than 20,000 people.

My thoughts go out to the people who lost members of their families and loved ones. Their sorrow must be truly heart-rending. My heart goes out to those who lost their homes and livelihoods and those who can no longer live in the places they used to live because of the nuclear plant accident,” he said.

In the aftermath of the disaster, the Empress and I visited the areas afflicted by the disasters and the evacuation centres for the victims in many areas to offer comfort and encouragement to them. On all of these visits we were most touched to see that, in spite of the sadness and hardships they must be facing, the people never seemed to lose their composure and, with a strong sense of solidarity, they were trying to overcome their hardships by helping each other.”

The Emperor also thanks the Self-Defense Forces, the police, the firefighters, the Japan Coast Guard, as well as the international community for the help and condolences they sent. But his mind is still on those suffering from the March disaster.

The afflicted areas will soon be facing a bitter cold winter. I am concerned about the health of the survivors, especially the elderly, who live under inadequate living conditions. It is my sincere hope that they will remain in good health through the cold winter.”

Moreover, the emperor mentions natural disasters elsewhere, particularly those that struck Thailand, where major flooding impacted the country.

The disasters in Japan and the floods in Thailand remind us once again that we live in a world today in which our lives are closely linked with the lives of peoples of other countries.”

Lastly, the emperor talked about his recent hospital stay for bronchitis.

I would like to express my gratitude to all the people for their concern and compassion regarding my health when I was hospitalized last month for mycoplasma infection. It has now been several weeks since I left hospital and I have been able to resume the official state duties that I had entrusted to the Crown Prince and I now feel that my physical condition is back to how it was prior to my hospitalization. I shall take good care of my health as I resume my works from now on through various events related to the coming of the New Year.”

Only days remain before the end of the year. My heart will be always with the afflicted people in the coming new year as has been the case thus far. I sincerely hope that the coming year will be a better year for everyone.”

About Emperor Akihito

Emperor Akihito was born December 23, 1933. He is the eldest son and fifth child of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. The Emperor was tutored English and Western etiquette by Elizabeth Gray Vining and later attended at the Department of Political Science at the Gakashuin University. He was invested as Heir-Apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne Nov. 10, 1952 and the following year, he represented his father the emperor at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, his first of the dozens of trips he made to 37 years as crown prince. He succeeded as Japan's 125th emperor on the death of Emperor Hirohito, Jan. 7, 1989. His formal accession took place Nov. 12, 1990. Since his accession, the emperor gave his best to bring the Imperial Family closer to the public, visiting 18 countries and all of Japan's 47 prefectures since he inherited the crown.

Akihito is the first Japanese emperor to made televised appearance, during the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country and the succeeding Fukushima I nuclear crisis in 2011, perhaps the most trying moments of his reign. In it, the emperor urged the country to keep hoping and helping one another.

Together with Empress Michiko, he toured numerous shelters for refugees to rekindle their hope, a very rear opportunity that the emperor grabbed to boost the country's morale.

The Emperor is a published ichthyology researcher, with emphasis in family Gobiidae. In 2005, a newly described goby, Exyrias akihito was named in his honor.

Emperor Akihito married Michiko Soda (born Oct. 24, 1934), the first-born daughter of Hidesaburo Shoda, president and later honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling. She was the commoner to become Japanese' empress-consort. Their marriage is a happy one and they have two sons and one daughter: Crown Prince Naruhito (born Feb. 23, 1960); Prince Akishino (botn Nov. 30, 1965); and the former Princess Sayako (Mrs. Kuroda, born April 18, 1969).  

The Emperor and Empress cheer well-wishers.

The Japanese Imperial Family, from left to right, Crown Princess Masako,
Crown Prince Naruhito, Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Prince
Akishino, his wife Princess Kiko, and their daughter Princess Mako.

Well-wishing crowd cheers during Emperor Akihito's 78th birthday.

The Emperor waves on well-wishers while speaking before them.

Crown Prince Naruhito

Crown Princess Masako.

Photo Source, Daylife, retrieved Dec. 24, 2011.


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