On his birthday, Japan’s emperor urges nation to keep hope alive

Tokyo, Feb 23 (EFE).- Japan’s Emperor Naruhito urged the country to keep the “fire of hope” alive and support each other amid challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic in a message released on the occasion of his 62nd birthday on Wednesday.

“The difficult situation continues, but I strongly believe that it is possible to overcome this severe reality with patience by caring for each other, sharing each other’s pain and making efforts to support each other,” Naruhito said in a press conference at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo ahead of his birthday, but released on Wednesday.

The emperor offered condolences to the family members of those who died from Covid-19 and expressed concern for all those who have lost their jobs or faced difficulties due to the pandemic, while also thanking healthcare workers for their efforts.

It is tradition for the occupier of the Chrysanthemum Throne and the rest of the Imperial family to greet the public from the balconies of the Imperial Palace on the emperor’s birthday, but the event was canceled for the third straight year due to the pandemic.

At the press conference, Naruhito also expressed his wish for his niece Mako to “lead a happy life” following her marriage to Kei Komuro last year, which led her to relinquish her royal status and move to the United States.

However, he also apologized for “causing concern to many people” due to the issues surrounding the wedding.

Mako’s relationship with commoner Komuro was mired in controversy over an alleged financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her ex-fiance, which sparked criticism and delayed the wedding for years.

The media scrutiny and criticism received from some social sectors around the dispute caused Mako to develop complex post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

Naruhito also assured that he will continue to support his wife, Empress Masako, 58, who has been battling stress-induced illness for years.

He also said he was glad that his only child, Princess Aiko, had completed all her coming-of-age events after turning 20 in December.

“As an adult member of the imperial family, I would like her to cherish and fulfill each of her duties,” the emperor said. EFE


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