Japanese emperor acknowledges ‘difficulties in daily life’ in first annual address since Covid pandemic
Japanese emperor Naruhito gave his first public birthday address on Thursday since he ascended the throne almost four years ago and spoke about daily struggles of people, including rising prices.
On the occasion of his 63rd birthday, the emperor said “many people are having difficulties in their daily life amid the pandemic and rising prices.”
“My heart feels pain when I think about people in vulnerable positions, who are aged, who have disabilities, who are in need of support, and people in poverty and their children.
“But it is encouraging and I am thankful to know that there are many people who support these people in vulnerable positions,” he added.
The emperor told a news conference held at the Imperial Palace ahead of his birthday address: “I strongly feel the importance of thinking beyond one’s own country to engage in dialogue to overcome differences and cooperate in solving problems. Each of us is being asked once again what we can do to realise a peaceful world.”
Naruhito was crowned on 1 May 2019 after his father Akihito became the first emperor to abdicate in two centuries.
Public birthday appearances by the emperor are an annual tradition but because of the pandemic during the last few years, Naruhito couldn’t continue the custom.
In January, the emperor also resumed the new year’s address for the first time since the Covid outbreak. He greeted members of the public for the first time in three years.
He told the crowd gathered at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo: “The spread of the coronavirus has been difficult for everyone, but I am very pleased to be able to greet you again.”
He told the crowd on Thursday: “I am truly grateful for having my birthday celebrated in this way by all of you. I hope that this spring will be a peaceful one for each and every one of you.”
WATCH: Japanese Emperor Naruhito gave his first public birthday address since ascending the throne almost four years ago https://t.co/3acP3zhFBR pic.twitter.com/AYCp8bvpW3
— Reuters Asia (@ReutersAsia) February 23, 2023
The local media reported that around 4,800 people were selected by lottery to attend the event.
Before the pandemic, appearances were open to everyone.
In June this year, the emperor and his wife empress Masako celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. “We have come this far by sharing our joys and sorrows.”
He added that the empress “is an important presence who supports me in daily life and someone with whom I can talk regarding both public and private matters”.