• Kyodo News

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Crown Prince Naruhito, prior to his 49th birthday Monday, vowed to do his best to lighten the burden of official duties on his ailing 75-year-old father.

At a news conference Friday in his Tokyo residence, the Crown Prince emphasized the importance of people around Emperor Akihito, including himself, thoroughly contemplating the issue of alleviating his burden while respecting his wish to fulfill his duties.

“I will do whatever it takes to help improve the situation,” the Crown Prince said.

The Imperial Household Agency announced measures in late January to lighten the official duties of both the Emperor and Empress Michiko.

Asked by a reporter for his opinion on the Imperial succession, widely believed to be one of the sources of the Emperor’s stress, the Crown Prince said he should refrain from making comments even though the issue is important.

On Crown Princess Masako, 45, who is undergoing treatment for an adjustment disorder, the Crown Prince said he does not expect his wife to hurry in expanding her official duties.

“She has a tendency to overwork when she is in relatively good physical condition,” he said. “Her doctor told me she needs to take careful steps so that her condition does not regress due to pushing herself too hard.”

He added that finding her mission in life through her official duties would help to improve her condition.

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