Emperor Akihito, on the occasion of his 81st birthday Tuesday, expressed hope that Japan will move forward with other nations as a peaceful country, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next year.
“I ardently hope that Japan will be able to go forward in the world as a stable, peaceful and sound nation, in mutual support not only with neighboring countries but with as many of the world’s countries as possible,” the Emperor said at a customary news conference held last Friday before his birthday.
He also referred to World War II, in which 3.1 million Japanese lost their lives, and said people today should keep this in mind.
“To ensure that those people did not die in vain, I believe it is our duty as survivors, as well as our responsibility to future generations, to always continue to strive toward a better Japan,” he said.
The Emperor praised efforts by people involved in compiling the Imperial Household Agency’s official record on his father, Emperor Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa, saying, “I am deeply grateful.”
In August, the agency completed compiling the annals of Emperor Showa to depict his life. The work took the agency 24 years. Reading about his accomplishments “will serve as a reminder and help me cherish anew the memory of Emperor Showa, who lived through an era fraught with difficulties,” he said.
Recalling times when he stayed at his father’s Imperial villas in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, and Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture, the Emperor said he learned many things from him.
“I learned to think about other people at all times and to act not because one was told to do so but to take responsibility in deciding one’s own actions,” he said.
Looking back the past year, the Emperor cited three Japan-born researchers winning this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for inventing efficient blue LEDs as one of the events that left a deep impression on him.
“I am proud of the accomplishments of the three physicists and I would like to express my deep respect to them,” he said. He expressed condolences for the people who lost their lives in natural disasters, such as the landslides triggered by torrential rains in Hiroshima and the eruption of Mount Ontake, while displaying concern about accidents in areas with heavy snowfall.
“I feel that, with advancing age, I am more prone to tripping and falling myself, so I am always worried about elderly people removing snow from their roofs.”