Tokyo: Japanese Emperor Akihito expressed
concern and support for people who have been affected by the
March 11 earthquake and tsunami, reflecting on the past year
on the occasion of his 78th birthday Friday.
2011 has been "a truly distressing year, dominated by
disasters," the emperor said in a statement released through the Agency.
Expressing concern about the health of people, especially
the elderly, who still live under severe conditions in
disaster-hit areas, the emperor said, "It has been encouraging
to note that the people in the afflicted areas are enduring
the harsh conditions in evacuation and that many people are
volunteering to support the victims."
"I feel that the Japanese people have come together as a
nation to squarely face the disaster and do what they can to
be of help for the victims," he added.
The emperor, who was admitted to hospital on November 6
and received treatment for bronchial pneumonia for more than
two weeks, also said, "I would like to express my gratitude to
all the people for their concern and compassion regarding my
"I shall take good care of my health as I resume my work
from now on through various events related to the coming of
the New Year."
Noting that 70 years have passed since the outbreak of
the Pacific War that broke out in 1941, the emperor reiterated
hope for peace.
"Now that the memories of the war have started to fade, I
think it is extremely important for everyone to study time and
again the course of history Japan has followed and to reflect
The emperor usually holds a customary prebirthday press
conference, but he only released the statement this year in
consideration of his health condition, according to the
In an address to about 11,550 well-wishers who visited
the Imperial Palace for the first of his three appearances
slated for Friday, the emperor said the imperial family will
never forget about victims of disasters, also including those
affected by torrential rains this year.