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Emperor Akihito, ahead of his 76th birthday Wednesday, reflected on the past year and said he feels his health has improved, but he will continue to work with a lighter schedule as a precautionary measure.

“My health is now better than it was last December, and I would like to spend the coming year as I did this year (with a lighter schedule and fewer functions), and I will try not to give people cause for concern,” the Emperor said in a statement issued by the Imperial Household Agency.

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