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The government-sponsored ceremony on Thursday (Nov. 12) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Emperor’s enthronement serves as an occasion to express people’s respect and affection not only for the Emperor but also for the Imperial couple and the rest of the Imperial family.

By ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne on Jan. 7, 1989, just after the death of his father, the Emperor Showa, the Emperor became the first to do so under the postwar Constitution. Article 1 of that document says, “The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.”

In a Nov. 12, 1990, enthronement ceremony held inside the Imperial Palace, the Emperor declared his determination to uphold the Constitution: “I swear to fulfill the duties as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people by always wishing for the happiness of the people and by abiding by the Constitution.”

The Emperor and the Empress made it their goal to visit every prefecture to meet as many people as possible. Upon visiting Kagoshima Prefecture in November 2003, the Imperial couple accomplished their objective — some 15 years after the enthronement. Their trips always included visits to social welfare facilities, and they often met with victims of natural disasters. The Emperor once said, “To know the situation of the nation and the people and to share feelings with the people are important from my standpoint as the symbol of the state, and this is my joy.”

The tragedy brought about by war never leaves the Emperor’s mind. While he was the Crown Prince, he cited the following days as ones to remember: Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, the days of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Aug. 15, 1945, the day of Japan’s surrender; and June 23, 1945, the day when the Imperial Japanese armed forces ceased organized resistance in the Battle of Okinawa. It is said that the Emperor offers prayers on these days every year.

April 10 marked the 50th anniversary of the wedding of the Emperor and the Empress. We heartily wish the couple the best of health and happiness.