Empress Emerita Michiko marks 87th birthday

NHK -- Oct 20
Japan's Empress Emerita Michiko turned 87 years old on Wednesday.

She and her husband, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, have been living at a temporary residence in Tokyo since March last year. They have refrained from going out or accepting guests amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Imperial Household Agency says the couple is thinking of people in areas affected by natural disasters, including the city of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture, which was hit by fatal mudslides in July.

The couple is reportedly relieved to hear about progress in the recovery of the 2011 disaster in northeastern Japan.

One of the pleasant reports was from Futaba Town, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. They heard good news about its first rice planting on an experimental basis since the nuclear accident 10 years ago.

The agency says the Empress Emerita often talked with her husband about this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. They reportedly appeared to be pleased with the remarkable development of sports for people with disabilities, for which they had provided continuous support.

Since May last year, the Empress Emerita has had a number of health problems, but in spite of the difficulties she has recently become able to play the piano little by little.

The couple adores Princess Mako, one of their granddaughters who is expected to leave the Imperial family when she gets married on October 26. The Empress Emerita reportedly appears to be sad to part from the Princess.

All ceremonial events for the Empress Emerita's birthday have been cancelled amid the pandemic.