On the occasion of his 59th birthday on Saturday, Crown Prince Naruhito expressed his resolve to fulfill his new role as the next emperor after he accedes the throne on May 1, saying he will follow the path demonstrated by his parents.

"I would like to pursue my duties as the symbol (of the state) by always being beside the Japanese citizens, and sharing joy and sorrow with the people," the Crown Prince said in his last news conference in that role, held Thursday ahead of his birthday.

The Crown Prince also expressed his readiness to explore new possibilities while continuing the legacy of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, saying, "I would like to pursue what is required of the Imperial family in accordance with the changing times."