Thursday, February 23, Japanese Emperor Naruhito delivered his first public birthday address since succeeding to the throne nearly four years ago. After delays caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, he solicited solidarity for those battling inflation and the pandemic.
“Many people are experiencing problems in their daily lives as a result of the epidemic and rising prices,” Naruhito remarked while standing on a palace balcony to collect shouts and well-wishes from tens of thousands of civilians gathered on the grounds below.
“My heart aches when I consider individuals in vulnerable positions, such as the elderly, those with disabilities, those in need of assistance, and the poor and their children. But it is heartening and I am grateful to know that so many people assist these folks in precarious situations,” he continued.
On May 1, 2019, 63-year-old Naruhito was crowned emperor after his father, Akihito, became the first emperor to abdicate in two centuries.
Every, the emperor celebrates his birthday in public, although the celebration was canceled in 2020 due to the epidemic.
As the country eases restrictions and returns to normal practices, Naruhito began his traditional New Year’s address for the first time since the COVID outbreak one month ago.
His wife, Empress Masako, his 21-year-old daughter Aiko, and his brother, Crown Prince Akishino, along with his wife and daughter, all wore white masks.
The Imperial Household Agency, which governs the life of the imperial family, stated that the number of public guests was limited to fewer than 5,000 out of more than 60,000 applicants. Before the pandemic, everyone could attend the events.
“I am thrilled to have my birthday recognized for the first time in front of the people,” Naruhito stated.
In addition, he expressed gratitude to Masako for spending more than half her life with him.
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