Japan's emperor thanks public for support, pledges to serve symbolic role
Kyodo -- Feb 23
Emperor Naruhito, on the occasion of his 60th birthday on Sunday, thanked the people for supporting him since he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne last year and reiterated his determination to fulfill his symbolic role, while expressing sympathy for those affected by the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

He became emperor on May 1, a day after his father, former Emperor Akihito, stepped down as the first Japanese monarch to do so in about 200 years. With the historic transition, Feb. 23 was designated a national holiday in place of the Dec. 23 birthday of the former emperor.

"One of the most memorable moments in the last 10 months was being given heartfelt congratulations by many people," he said in thanking them at a press conference held in Tokyo on Friday ahead of his birthday.

"My path as the symbol of the state and the unity of its people has just begun," he said, adding, "I want to work harder toward fulfilling my responsibility as the symbol by training, always thinking about the people and standing by them."

He also said he keeps in mind the path his parents have walked.

The emperor was initially scheduled to greet the public at the Imperial Palace to celebrate the occasion, but the Imperial Household Agency canceled the event amid concerns over the coronavirus spreading in Japan.

天皇陛下は23日、60歳の誕生日を迎え即位後初めてとなる会見で現在の心境などを語られました。  (問)陛下は昨年5月、約200年ぶりの退位によって皇位を継承し、一連の即位儀式を終えられました。即位の感想とともに、天皇として約10カ月を振り返り、お気持ちをお聞かせください。また、平成時を踏襲した儀式のあり方についてのお考えをお聞かせください。
News sources: Kyodo, ANNnewsCH
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