Empress Masako Turns 60, Hopes to Move on with New Feeling

Courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency
The Empress poses for a photo in the Imperial Palace on Dec.1.

TOKYO, Dec. 9 (Jiji Press) — Japan’s Empress Masako turned 60 on Saturday as she hopes to take a step forward with a new feeling.

“I feel it is incredible,” Empress Masako said in a written comment released by the Imperial Household Agency.

She expressed her deep gratitude to all those who have helped her and hope that she can take a step forward with a new spirit and continue making efforts as she moves forward in her life.

Empress Masako touched on natural disasters that have occurred since she married Emperor Naruhito, including the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake in and around the western city of Kobe, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit hard northeastern Japan and the 2016 temblors in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

“How impressed I was by the way people joined forces and tried to overcome the hardships they faced,” the Empress said.

On the global front, Empress Masako said it is “very painful” that many lives are being lost in wars and conflicts, expressing concern that divisions and conflicts are becoming deeper.

She also stressed the importance of cooperating with each other while respecting each other.

This year, Empress Masako was able to attend in person all of the four major events held in regional areas every year with the attendance of the Imperial couple.

Referring to her visit to areas damaged by the 2011 disaster in Iwate Prefecture in June this year, the Empress said she will continue thinking about affected areas.

She also talked about her official visit to Indonesia in the same month, saying that she experienced the expanded circle of friendship nurtured over many years between Japan and Indonesia.

Empress Masako expressed gratitude to many people who celebrated the 30th anniversary of her marriage to Emperor Naruhito also in June.

On their daughter, Princess Aiko, the Empress said, “I feel that she has become able to help us on various occasions.”

This month marks 20 years since Empress Masako, then Crown Princess, began receiving medical treatment in December 2003. In July 2004, the Imperial Household Agency said her illness was adjustment disorder.

The agency’s team of doctors expressed the same view as before that she is in a process of recovery and that her physical condition is still inconsistent. The team says that she should take enough rest, get some exercise including walks and spend time to refresh herself to keep fatigue from lingering.

Courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency
The Empress, center, talk with the Emperor, left, and Princess Aiko.