Japan’s Empress turns 58, deeply moved by daughter’s coming of age

Courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency
The Emperor, left, and the Empress look at traditional crafts from places they have visited remotely this year.

The Empress, who turned 58 on Thursday, has released a written statement in which she expressed her strong feelings for her daughter, Princess Aiko, who has just turned 20, and her sympathy for people who are still suffering from the pandemic.

In the statement, the Empress referred to Princess Aiko, who turned 20 on Dec. 1. “I am deeply moved as I cherish various memories,” the Empress wrote, adding that she was greatly relieved that the series of events celebrating Princess Aiko’s coming of age had proceeded smoothly.

“It feels almost incredible that Aiko, who was so small, has come of age,” the Empress said. She expressed hope that the princess would fulfill her responsibilities as an adult member of the Imperial family.

The Empress also stated her concern for people who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and for those who are suffering from long COVID. Suicides are increasing, particularly among working women and children, due to changes wrought by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Empress wrote: “Such problems are occurring because people are prone to feel isolated, as it is now difficult for them to be close to each other. I hope that society will be a place where we can care for and support each other even more in the future.”

The Great East Japan Earthquake occurred 10 years ago. The Empress expressed her deep care for people who have been unable to reconstruct their lives or still bear psychological scars from the disaster, saying, “My heart aches.”

Reflecting on news stories over the past year, the Empress praised Syukuro Manabe for being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his role in developing a model for predicting climate change.

“I feel very pleased,” said the Empress, who studied energy economics at university and dealt with environmental issues, including climate change, when she was a diplomat. Recalling those days, she said, “I think deeply about the importance of issues related to climate change and the global environment every day.”

A group of doctors at the Imperial Household Agency has issued a statement regarding the health of the Empress, who receives treatment for adjustment disorder.

“The Empress still has ups and downs with her health, and there are times when her fatigue persists for some time,” the doctors said in the announcement, which was similar to the one issued last year.