• Kyodo


Marking his 53rd birthday Saturday, Crown Prince Naruhito said he has been enjoying a “fruitful time” with Emperor Akihito by regularly discussing his role as a symbol of the state and various other issues.

“The Emperor talks about what he felt and experienced, so I’d like to draw on” his remarks and learn from them, the Crown Prince, the first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne, said in a news conference Thursday amid concerns that communication between the two has been poor in recent years.

The Crown Prince and his younger brother, Prince Akishino, 47, have been visiting the Emperor, 79, at the Imperial Palace about once a month since last spring to exchange views over lunch.

But the Crown Prince declined to elaborate on the specific details of their conversations. Under the postwar Constitution, the Emperor serves as a symbol of Japan but has no authority over national political affairs.

Looking ahead to June, when the Crown Prince and Crown Princess Masako will celebrate two decades of marriage, he expressed gratitude to his 49-year-old wife and said: “I am deeply moved when I think of how 20 years have passed. We have supported each other” down the years.

Meanwhile, he dismissed growing views that the Crown Princess, who has been receiving treatment for a stress-induced illness for around 10 years, should be examined by other doctors. The Crown Prince praised her current medical team and said there is no need for a second opinion.

Turning to their only child, Princess Aiko, he indicated his pride at watching her grow more “dependable” and begin to make more of her own decisions. The 11-year-old princess, a fifth-grader at Gakushuin Primary School in Tokyo, wants to attend a ski training camp during the winter holidays without her parents acting as chaperons, according to the Crown Prince.

Turning to other matters, he stated his hopes for the fast recovery of areas in Tohoku that were destroyed by the March 11, 2011, natural disasters and subsequent nuclear crisis, as the nation prepares to commemorate the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

“I am deeply concerned at how (the victims) continue to live in a tough situation,” the Crown Prince said, noting that many disaster evacuees remain stuck in temporary housing, unable to return to their former lives.

Touching on the recent hot-button issues of bullying and corporal punishment, the Crown Prince urged the country to work together and create an environment where the “children, who carry the future, will grow up healthy and young people can be confident and active.”

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