May 1, 2019
Tokyo--New Emperor Naruhito has had to face concerns about the health of his wife, Empress Masako, while still carrying out his hectic schedule.
After the then Crown Princess withdrew from her duties to receive treatment for stress-related illness in the early 2000s, the then Crown Prince was seen conducting official duties, such as visits to foreign countries and rural areas in Japan, as well as attending events, alone.
Her health gradually improved after the couple's only child, Princess Aiko, entered Gakushuin Primary School in April 2008.
Although the young princess had missed some of her primary school classes due to her concerns about school life, she still managed to enroll in Gakushuin Girls' Junior High School in April 2014.
After the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami occurred, the couple visited Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures in the hardest-hit Tohoku northeastern region.
The couple have since made several trips to Tohoku. Their trip to Miyagi in November 2017 marked the completion of their third round of visits to the three prefectures since the disaster.
Then Crown Princess Masako attended her first overseas duty in 10 years and four months when she was present at the inauguration of Dutch King Willem-Alexander in April 2013. She also attended the coronation of Tonga's King Tupou VI in July 2015.
In June last year, the couple celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.
While being still restricted in her ability to carry out public duties, she has been taking part in more activities, including trips to the countryside.
Meanwhile, Emperor Naruhito has a lifelong interest in water-related issues, outside his official duties.
Between 2007 and 2015, he served as honorary president of the U.N. Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. He became the first Imperial Family member to give a speech at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
When asked about the role of the Imperial Family in 1985, the then Crown Prince said it should "go among the people."
At a press conference in February 2010, he said, "The opinion that...an Imperial Family that goes among the people is important and that it is necessary to create opportunities to meet with as many people as possible had not changed."
In August 2016, then Emperor Akihito signaled his wish to abdicate in a video message.
The then Crown Prince watched the video in a VIP room in Nagoya Station in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi before returning to Tokyo from an official duty in the prefecture.
In June 2017, parliament passed a law to allow Japan's first Imperial abdication in some 200 years.
Despite his busy schedule, new Emperor Naruhito does jogging to maintain his physical strength. He has climbed over 170 mountains.
Holding a keen interest in environmental issues, the new Emperor has called for the realization of a sustainable society.
He is described by his aides and others as a good-natured, serious and hardworking person.
Together with the Empress, the Emperor will work to create a new image for the Imperial Family. Jiji Press
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