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EDITORIAL | Emperor at 64 Remains a Pillar of Support for Japanese People

On his birthday, Emperor Naruhito's thoughts and prayers were with the people who suffered during the Noto Peninsula earthquake.



The Emperor speaks at a press conference at the Imperial Palace on the afternoon of February 21. (Pool photo)

On the occasion of his birthday, His Majesty the Emperor stated, "The imperial family wishes happiness for the Japanese people and wishes to share their joys and sorrows." 

Emperor Naruhito turned 64 on Friday, February 23. We offer our heartfelt congratulations to the Emperor, who is always thinking about and supporting the Japanese people. 

At a press conference the day before his birthday, the Emperor first mentioned his thoughts of concern for the areas affected by the Noto Peninsula earthquake

He declared, "My heart goes out to the many people who died or whose whereabouts even now remain unknown as well as to those who have been forced to evacuate."  

People wave Japanese flags as the general public visits the palace to celebrate His Majesty the Emperor's birthday on the morning of February 23. At the Imperial Palace (© Sankei by Hideyuki Matsui)

There are concerns that the health of elderly people who have been forced to evacuate for a prolonged period may deteriorate. Meanwhile, road grid disruptions and water outages continue. Traditional culture and industry have also suffered severe damage. His Majesty mentioned all of these concerns. He also thanked all those involved in rescue and relief operations who performed under such trying conditions. 

According to the Imperial Household Agency, while the Emperor and Empress are eager to visit the disaster area, they are determined not to hinder the work of recovery. In line with that thinking, the government is considering scheduling a day trip for the royal couple towards the end of March. 

If that visit materializes, it will of course lift the spirits of disaster victims. It will also no doubt create added momentum nationwide in support of the disaster-stricken areas. 

Five Years Since Enthronement

The Emperor will celebrate the fifth anniversary of his enthronement in May 2024. Early in his reign, his visits to local areas and other official functions were severely curtailed as part of the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Nonetheless, during that entire period, members of the imperial family constantly thought about how they could support the nation. 

The Emperor waves his hand during the public visit to celebrate His Majesty's 64th birthday. On February 23 at the Imperial Palace. (© Sankei by Takumi Kamoshida)

Since May 2023, when Japan's health authorities reclassified COVID-19 as a "Category 5" health condition, the number of opportunities for the Emperor to appear in public has increased. In fact, in January the Emperor and Empress made an official trip to Indonesia. That trip marked the first time the Emperor was able to travel abroad to cultivate international friendship since assuming the throne. 

The imperial garden parties in spring and autumn have also resumed. 

Besides activities that generate much public interest, the Emperor has participated in many court rituals. In these, he has prayed for peace and prosperity for the nation and the Japanese people. The Emperor's prayers during such rituals and ceremonies, as well as the deep gratitude his subjects feel regarding them, are emblematic of Japan's enduring national character. 

On the occasion of the Emperor's birthday, all Japanese wish him a long and happy life. And we hope that he will remain healthy and active. 


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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