February 25, 2019
Tokyo--Japan's Emperor Akihito expressed deep emotion on Sunday over marking the 30th anniversary of his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne amid congratulations offered by people at home and abroad.
"It means so much to me that I commemorate this day amid congratulations both nationally and internationally," the Emperor said in a speech at a government-sponsored ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary on Jan. 7.
Looking back on the Heisei era, which began the day after his enthronement in January 1989, the Emperor said, "Japan had a period free of war for the first time in modern history, backed by the strong will of the people aspiring for peace."
But he added, "Japan also faced many unexpected difficulties."
Referring to a series of natural disasters that hit Japan, the Emperor recalled people in disaster areas and people in other parts of the nation who stayed close to disaster victims as "one of unforgettable memories during my days on the throne."
Emperor Akihito, 85, will abdicate on April 30, bringing the Heisei era to an end, and will then be given the title of "joko." His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will accede to the throne on May 1.
Sunday's ceremony, held at the National Theatre in Tokyo, brought together about 1,100 people, including Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, as well as the heads of the three government branches, cabinet ministers, ambassadors to Japan and representatives from many other fields.
After addresses by the heads of the three powers and the representative of ambassadors to Japan, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi made addresses on behalf of the people.
In an address, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "We will never forget that the Emperor and Empress have always stayed close to the people for a long 30 years." Uchibori called attention to the Imperial couple's visits to Fukushima Prefecture after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 plant.
"Residents in Fukushima were given the courage to take steps toward tomorrow as they worked on reconstruction from a complex disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that is unequaled anywhere in the world," the governor said.
Actress Kuriko Namino read aloud "waka" poems composed by the Imperial couple in 2003.
Daichi Miura, a singer from Okinawa Prefecture, sang a "ryuka" song written by the Emperor and melodized by the Empress. Ryuka is a traditional song in Okinawa and surrounding areas.
Soprano Yumiko Samejima sang another song composed by the Empress.
Earlier on Sunday, a celebratory event was held at the Imperial Palace. Imperial Family members offered congratulations to the Emperor and Empress on the 30th anniversary.
At the palace, the Imperial Household Agency accepted signatures from the public in celebration of the anniversary. Jiji Press
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