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We congratulate the Emperor and Empress on their golden wedding anniversary. On April 10, 1959, the entire nation celebrated their wedding as TV and radio stations broadcast live the horse-drawn carriage parade carrying the newly-wed couple from the Imperial Palace to their residence.

It was a historic event that narrowed the psychological distance between the people and the Imperial family. People adored the then Crown Princess, referring to her as “Michiko-san.” Instead of choosing a spouse from among relatives of the Imperial family or former aristocratic family members, the then Crown Prince chose to marry Miss Michiko Shoda, a commoner albeit from a wealthy family. Their marriage symbolized the birth of a new postwar Japan.

The wedding also marked a new economic era. Many people purchased TV sets in anticipation of the Imperial wedding parade. The number of TV sets sold in 1959 more than doubled from the previous year’s 1.2 million sets to 2.9 million sets — a harbinger of the high-economic growth of the 1960s.

The Imperial couple tried to have an ordinary family life. Departing from the Imperial tradition, the couple lived together with their children, including the eldest son who would one day assume the Chrysanthemum Throne. The Empress breast-fed her babies, abolishing the wet-nurse system.

The Emperor, who was raised separately from his parents in accordance with Imperial tradition, is thankful for the Empress for letting him have a taste of an ordinary family life. In 1983, the then Crown Prince said, “Looking back at the past 25 years, I was able to have a spiritual peace that I had never had before.”

The Emperor and Empress have sought to console the souls of war victims and have actively involved themselves in welfare-related activities, including providing encouragement to victims of natural disasters. The Imperial couple’s visits to Okinawa, China, Iwo Jima and Saipan helped heal the wounds caused by war.

The Emperor believes that his role is “sharing both joy and hardship with people.” We pray that the Emperor and Empress will be blessed with good health and long lives.

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