Japan’s Emperor Naruhito turned 62 on Wednesday.
Ahead of his birthday, he expressed his thoughts to the media at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
The emperor said his heart aches when he thinks of people who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and are struggling financially or facing deeper isolation.
While expressing his gratitude to workers who support people’s lives and livelihoods, the Emperor expressed his belief that the current difficulties can be overcome if people continue to sympathize, share their pain and support each other un little longer.
Referring to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo last summer, the Emperor said he respected the efforts of everyone involved in holding the Games safely.
He said he thought many people must have drawn hope and courage from watching the athletes perform at their best.
The emperor also mentioned Okinawa, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its return from American rule this year. During World War II, the prefecture was the scene of a fierce ground battle that claimed more than 200,000 lives.
The emperor said he intends to revisit Okinawa’s path again and keep his heart close to the land and the people of the prefecture.
For the second year in a row, Emperor Naruhito will not greet the public or hold a banquet to mark his birthday. Reduced ceremonies will be held at the palace.