Prince Akishino, the younger son of Emperor Akihito, turned 50 on Monday, expressing concern over the health of his mother, Empress Michiko, who has battled heart problems.
“I believe her stress is partly due to the illness of the Emperor,” the prince said at a Nov. 19 news conference, referring to the Emperor’s 2003 surgery for prostate cancer and coronary-artery bypass surgery in 2012.
The Emperor’s recovery from the bypass surgery “was not so fast,” the prince said, indicating that anxiety about the health of her husband has put a strain on the Empress.
The Empress was diagnosed this summer with myocardial ischemia stemming from stress. The condition occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced, preventing it from receiving enough oxygen.
The prince said he hopes the Empress can be more relaxed even with her “very restrictive life.”
With this year marking the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end, he said it offered an opportunity to reflect on the past, but added that regardless of the anniversary, “it is necessary that we never forget the war.”
The Emperor and Empress, both 81, have continued commemorating those who died in the war, visiting battle sites and meeting people who experienced the conflict both at home and abroad. In April, the couple visited the Pacific island country of Palau.
“I always bear in my mind the significance of commemoration and feeling the importance of remembering the war dead,” the prince said.
His three children are also learning what happened in the war, he told the news conference with his wife, Princess Kiko.
One of their two daughters, Princess Kako, entered International Christianity University in Tokyo this spring, drawing intense public interest and being widely covered in the media, including tabloids and weekly magazines.
“I’ve accepted it … as it is,” the prince said about his 20-year-old daughter. “She appears to have a more diligent student life than her father did.”