The Emperor, who turns 66 today, expressed happiness Wednesday that the first 10 years of his reign have passed relatively peacefully. The Emperor contrasted the first decade of his Heisei era to that of his late father, Emperor Hirohito, saying “various violent incidents occurred” in that period. Emperor Hirohito took the throne in 1926 and is posthumously known as Emperor Showa. The Emperor explained that his father’s reign started out with the 1928 assassination by Japanese militarists of Zhang Zuolin, the Chinese warlord who ruled Manchuria, and that eight years later there was an attempted coup d’etat in Tokyo that eventually led to war, culminating in Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945. “I am happy to think that the 10 years of the Heisei era, while beset with various difficulties and problems, have passed in calm and peace,” the Emperor said in a written response to questions from reporters.The Emperor expressed his concern over the economic situation in Japan, saying he had considered not holding events celebrating the 10th anniversary of his accession to the throne on Nov. 12. But he added, “I am profoundly grateful that so many people came to convey their congratulations and also for the celebrations of Nov. 12.” Looking back on 1999, the Emperor said, “It is of great concern to me that the severe economic circumstances of this past year still persist, causing various hardships in the lives of the people.”

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