Crown Prince turns 56, hopes Tohoku can recover soon, says wife is improving

Kyodo, Staff Report

Crown Prince Naruhito, ahead of his 56th birthday Tuesday, said he and Crown Princess Masako hope residents of the Tohoku region will recover from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and rebuild their lives as soon as possible.

“I have pain in my heart for the fact that a number of people are still living in severe conditions. With the reconstruction being half way, I hope their lives will improve without further delay and they will restore their comfortable livelihoods,” he said at a news conference.

Regarding the past year, which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Crown Prince recalled the tour last April by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to the Pacific nation of Palau to commemorate those who lost their lives during the war.

“I was impressed anew by the depth of feeling for peace which the Emperor and Empress have. At the same time, I have renewed my attitude that we, the people of the next generation, have to take over such a feeling,” the Crown Prince said.

He also discussed his first visit to the Obunko Fuzokuko, a shelter built during the war exclusively for the Imperial Couple. The shelter was the site where his grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, now known as Emperor Showa first heard the recording of his own Imperial edict announcing Japan’s surrender in World War II.

The vinyl master recording of the historic speech was made public for the first time last August.

“Upon entering the Obunko Fuzokuko, I was struck by the important role this place had played,” he said. “Hearing that the Emperor had sat here, I felt as if I had been transported back in time.”

The master recording, which was released to the public amid great fanfare ahead of the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, left the Crown Prince feeling greatly impressed.

“Even though we have occasionally heard the recording on the news, for example, actually looking at the record and hearing Emperor Showa’s voice emanate from the recording left me deeply moved,” he said.

As for the Crown Princess, who has been receiving treatment for a stress-induced illness for more than a decade, he said he feels she is slowly getting better. Last year, she took part in a biannual garden party hosted by the Emperor and Empress for the first time since 2003.

The Crown Prince added that he hopes his wife “will expand the range of her activities step by step, without impatience.”