Japan’s Empress Turns 57, Expresses Condolences for People Affected by Pandemic

Courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency
The Empress takes part in a photo shoot at her residence in the Akasaka Imperial Palace in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Dec. 3.

The Empress celebrated her 57th birthday on Wednesday and made her feelings public in writing. Looking back on the year, she wrote that it was “deeply painful,” to see the world has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic. “It is my sincere hope that all of us will work together to overcome this ordeal while reaching out to those who are suffering from difficulties.” A celebratory event that had been scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled due to the current infection situation.

“It’s really grueling to see so many people suffering and dying from the infection,” she wrote in her remarks. She expressed her gratitude to the medical workers who have a strong sense of responsibility to treat infected people, saying, “I am humbled by their efforts.” She also expressed her concern about economic hardship, discrimination against infected people and medical workers, and child abuse, writing, “I sincerely hope that everyone can live a peaceful life.”

She also conveyed her condolences to the victims of the torrential rains in Kyushu in July, and her sympathy to the bereaved families and victims.

Meanwhile, she wrote that she “was relieved” to see the series of events related to the Emperor’s enthronement successfully completed at the Rikkoshi-no-rei ceremony on Nov. 8. Regarding the public who have warmly celebrated the enthronement since the start of related events last year, she showed her gratitude and wrote, “I truly feel that each of you is an irreplaceable person whom I wish to see happy.”

A team of doctors from the Imperial Household Agency also made public in writing the same opinion about the Empress’ physical condition as they did last year. “[The Empress’] physical condition continues to fluctuate and excessive expectations are counterproductive,” it wrote.