The Empress turned 66 on Friday, but no celebrations are scheduled to mark her birthday as the Imperial family is still mourning the passing in June of the Empress Dowager, the Imperial Household Agency said.

The Empress released a statement in response to questions submitted by reporters covering the agency, one of which asked whether any experiences involving the Empress Dowager, who has taken the posthumous title of Empress Kojun, have left a lasting impression on the Empress.

The Empress recounted the time she accompanied the Empress Dowager to the Tama Mausoleum in Hachioji, western Tokyo, and they picked small plums together, shortly after her marriage in 1959 to the then Crown Prince.

“Hearing the laughter of the Empress Dowager that day as the bright sun shone down, I felt that from then on I would follow this lady wherever she might go,” the statement said.

The Empress offered words of encouragement to The Crown Princess who late last year suffered a miscarriage.

“A miscarriage is a truly sad thing no matter how many children a person has, and I believe that no one can fully imagine from outside the feelings of the Crown Princess at having to endure such an experience with her first pregnancy,” she said.

“I hope that she will take good care of herself and spend her days in good spirit.”

The Empress added that she is not quite sure how she can help the Crown Princess.

“I believe that it is one of the duties of the older generation to listen to the younger generation and it is in such a manner that I shall try always to be at her side,” the Empress said.

On events that took place in the past year, she expressed concern about victims of natural disasters, including an eruption on Miyake Island south of Tokyo and flooding in the Tokai region.

Commenting on the Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded earlier this month to Hideki Shirakawa, a professor emeritus at the University of Tsukuba, the Empress said, “I am proud of the fact that Japan has a high level of expertise in material science, in the fundamental field of chemistry.”

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