• Kyodo, Jiji

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Emperor Naruhito, on the occasion of his 62nd birthday on Wednesday, called on people in Japan to keep “a fire of hope” burning in their hearts and support each other in the face of challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The emperor also said he felt thankful to health care workers and the many people who have battled against the prolonged pandemic, while offering condolences for the losses suffered in the past year.

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