Japanese Emperor Laments Suffering Caused by Global Conflicts in Birthday Remarks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: The Emperor, Empress and Princess Aiko wave from the balcony of the Imperial Palace on Thursday.

The Emperor gave a press conference at the Imperial Palace this week ahead of his 63rd birthday, expressing his sorrow over the ongoing conflicts in various places in the world, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I feel deep sadness for the difficult reality the world is facing,” the Emperor said. Many people have been killed or hurt, he added, and survivors live in fear and sadness.

“It is important for us to not only think about our own country, but also to continue conversations with other nations to overcome our differences and solve them,” the Emperor said. “We are being questioned once again as to what each and every one of us can do to achieve a peaceful world.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Emperor speaks to reporters at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The Emperor also expressed his sympathy for vulnerable people in Japan, including the elderly, disabled and those in need, who are having a particularly difficult time due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and price increases.

“My heart aches,” the Emperor said.

Last year, the Emperor resumed regional trips after an about three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“We are happy that we can meet people face to face again,” the Emperor said, referring to the warm welcome he has received at his destinations.

The Emperor and the Empress will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in June.

“For nearly 30 years, we’ve helped each other and shared happiness and sadness,” the Emperor said, remembering the years he has spent with the Empress, who has adjustment disorder and still experiences ups and downs in her condition.

However, the Empress made three regional trips and traveled to Britain to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II last year.

“She is doing very well,” the Emperor said, expressing his thanks to the Empress.

Courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency
The Emperor and the Empress chat at the Imperial Residence in Tokyo on Feb. 16.

Starting next fiscal year, the Imperial Household Agency will launch a public relations office to strengthen its capacity to provide information.

“To build a trusting relationship between people in this country and the Imperial family, it is also important to provide comprehensive information at the appropriate time,” the Emperor said. Regarding practical measures to strengthen such efforts, the Emperor said he is aware that royal families overseas use social media to offer information by themselves.

However, “I’d like to entrust the matter to the Imperial Household Agency,” he said.

Asked about what happy news left a strong impression on him in the past year, the Emperor cited the good showing by Japanese athletes at the World Cup soccer in Qatar and shogi player Sota Fujii becoming the youngest player ever to hold five major titles, among other achievements.

“They amazed people and gave them bright hopes,” the Emperor said.

Greetings from balcony

The Emperor greeted the public from the balcony of the Imperial Palace on Thursday, his 63rd birthday.

It was his first birthday greeting with the public since succeeding to the throne in 2019, as the practice had been suspended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Emperor appeared on the balcony of the palace’s Chowaden reception hall with the Empress, their daughter Princess Aiko and other members of the Imperial family shortly after 10 a.m.

“I’m truly happy that I have been able to receive congratulations like this from all of you on my birthday for the first time,” the Emperor said.