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On the occasion of his 61st birthday on Tuesday, Emperor Naruhito said he felt thankful for the "perseverance and strength of the people" in Japan in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic and expressed appreciation for the medical professionals who have toiled through it.

The emperor offered his condolences for the many losses suffered in the past year due to the virus, acknowledging the efforts individuals have made to prevent the further spread of infections as well as the difficulties and stress brought about by the pandemic.

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