Tokyo, Dec 23 (IANS) Japan’s Emperor Akihito on Sunday said he was reassured that the end of his reign has come amid peace in his country as he marked his 85th birthday, the last before his abdication.
“It gives me deep comfort that the Heisei Era (his reign) is coming to an end, free of war in Japan,” Emperor Akihito said in a press conference ahead of his birthday at the Imperial Palace here, Efe news reported.
This is the last time he celebrates his birthday as the head of state before his scheduled abdication on April 30, 2019, after a reign marked with pacifism and his closeness to the Japanese people.
In his speech, he also stressed the importance of not forgetting the horrors of war.
“I have believed it is important not to forget that countless lives were lost in World War II and that the peace and prosperity of post-war Japan was built upon the numerous sacrifices and tireless efforts made by the Japanese people,” he said.
“Subsequent global developments have not necessarily gone in the direction that we desired. It pains my heart that ethnic disputes and religious conflicts have occurred, numerous lives have been lost to acts of terrorism, and a large number of refugees are still enduring lives of hardship today throughout the world,” Akihito said.
Akihito also warmly remembered his wife, Empress Michiko, saying next year marks their 60th wedding anniversary.
“The Empress has always been at my side, understood my thoughts, and supported me in my position and official duties as I performed my duties as the Emperor,” he said.
Addressing his impending abdication, the Emperor said he had spent his time on the throne searching for the best way to act as the “symbol of the state” as per the constitution.