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EDITORIAL | On Emperor’s Birthday, A Prayer for Japan’s Unity, Security, and Prosperity



Emperor Naruhito turned 60 on February 23, a birthday considered a landmark age in the Japanese zodiac calendar. We would like to offer our heartiest congratulations on the occasion of the Emperor’s birthday.


We sincerely hope to see the nation moving forward in unison, under the Emperor, to build up our prosperity in the era of Reiwa. As stipulated by the Constitution, he is a symbol of Japan and the unity of its people.


Sunday’s birthday was a special one for His Highness, his first since his enthronement as emperor in May 2019.



Unfortunately, the traditional congratulatory visit by tens of thousands of people to the Imperial Palace scheduled for the Emperor’s birthday was canceled as a preventive measure against the spread of the respiratory ailment caused by the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China. Nevertheless, there has been no change at all in the sentiments of the people of Japan to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday.


In a news conference ahead of his birthday, the Emperor offered his sympathy to the patients of the coronavirus and their families, expressing his wishes to see the virus contained as quickly as possible. We should act cool-headedly and scrupulously carry out his wishes in response to the coronavirus crisis. 


About 10 months have passed since the Emperor’s enthronement. Underscoring the resolve to fulfill his duties, the Emperor told those at the news conference ahead of his birthday, “My role on the path as the nation’s symbol has only just commenced.”



In late December, the Emperor, together with Empress Masako, paid a visit to the town of Marumori in Miyagi Prefecture, and the city of Motomiya in Fukushima Prefecture. Both were subjected to severe damage and loss due to the deadly typhoon Hagibis in mid-October. They gave the sufferers words of encouragement while shaking their hands.


During the news conference, the Emperor expressed his sympathy anew to those who suffered from the typhoon, who have been living uncomfortably in temporary housing units. He said, “I feel a pain in my chest” due to their suffering. 


At the news conference, the Emperor also made reference to such problems as the abuse of children, noting, “I remain strongly hopeful that children, who will shoulder responsibility for the future, can be brought up soundly.”



The way the Emperor commits himself to the people, for the benefit of the public, has been engraved in the hearts of many Japanese. It is a tradition of the royal family that the current Emperor himself witnessed being handed down to the Emperor Emeritus from the Emperor Showa.


The Emperor and the Empress will make a visit to Britain later in 2020. The Emperor will serve as honorary president of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this coming summer. The roles played by the royal couple in promoting Japan’s goodwill and friendship with other countries are immensely significant, and we believe they are of great encouragement to the people.


The Emperor’s comment during the news conference that — “I feel I am still as young as 60” instead of “I feel as old as 60” — has truly been a powerful message. While we can see that every day the Emperor must be filled with the challenge of hard work, we also see that he is fully prepared for the task.



In addition to the state of affairs that is known to the general public, the Emperor has been praying for the people’s security and the prosperity of Japan through a large number of court rituals. Public understanding should be deepened about key rituals and ceremonies over which the Emperor presides.


With a sense of gratitude, the people, for their part, have paid deep respects to the Emperor for his assiduities for the people’s well-being.


It is Japan’s national characteristic that the Emperor and the public are tied by long-cherished bonds. Continuance of the Chrysanthemum Throne’s long line of rule, which by law allows only males in the paternal line to ascend the throne, is obviously in accordance with the wishes and delight of the people.



(Click here to read the editorial in Japanese.)


Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun 



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