Tag Archives: Empress Michiko

Abdication of Emperor Akihito

On 30th April, the Ceremony of the Abdication of HM Empero Akihito at the Seiden (State Hall) was held.
Upon abdication, HM Emperor Akihito becomes Emperor Emeritus and HM Empress Michiko becomes Empress Emerita.

Addresses by His Majesty the Emperor

Text from Imperial Household Agency

Today, I am concluding my duties as the Emperor.

I would like to offer my deep gratitude to the words just spoken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on behalf of the people of Japan.

Since ascending the throne 30 years ago, I have performed my duties as the Emperor with a deep sense of trust in and respect for the people, and I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so. I sincerely thank the people who accepted and supported me in my role as the symbol of the State.

I sincerely wish, together with the Empress, that the Reiwa era, which begins tomorrow, will be a stable and fruitful one, and I pray, with all my heart, for peace and happiness for all the people in Japan and around the world.

Photo from Mainichi

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The 30th Anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s Accession to the Throne Part2

On 24th February, the Commemoration Ceremony of The 30th Anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor’s Accession to the Throne held by the government took place at National Theatre in Tokyo.

The Song “the Sound of the Singing Voice” was performed by Mr Daichi Miura at the Ceremony. This song was written by His Majesty and composed by Her Majesty.

Emperor reflects on Japan’s past, future and his ‘endlessly long’ quest to pin down role after 30 years on throne

Text from The Japan Times

Emperor Akihito said Sunday he has dedicated the past 30 years of his reign to an “endlessly long” quest to fathom out his role as the symbol of the state, expressing hopes that his successors will pick up where he left off and update the idea as they adapt to the changing times.

Looking back on the past 30 years of the Heisei Era, the Emperor also suggested Japan’s days as a complacent island country are coming to an end, noting that globalization is placing pressure on the nation to adopt a more outward-looking posture and to “sincerely” approach relations with other countries. Heisei means “achieving peace.”

The Emperor was speaking at a government-sponsored event at the National Theatre in Tokyo held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his enthronement. It also coincided with preparations for his coming abdication.

“Ever since I ascended the throne, I have spent my days praying for the peace of the country and the happiness of its people, as well as contemplating how I should behave as a symbol,” the Emperor said.

After the war, the Emperor was defined by the Constitution as “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people,” and stripped of any political power. Under the prewar Constitution, he was deified and defined as Japan’s head of state with whom all sovereignty resided.

“The journey to figure out the idea of a symbolic emperor, as defined by the Constitution, has been endlessly long, and I hope my successors in the next eras to come will keep exploring an ideal form of this symbolic role and build on the version from this departing era,” he said.

The Emperor also commended Heisei for being the “first period in modern history where Japan did not experience war,” but at the same noted it was fraught with “unexpected challenges” such as climate change, natural disasters and a rapidly graying population. The changing landscape of society, he said, begs the question of how Japan should respond.

“As an island country, Japan has enjoyed relative advantage in cultivating its own unique culture, but amid growing moves toward globalization, I think it is being expected to open itself more to the outside, use its wisdom and power to establish its own position and sincerely work on building relationships with other countries.”

Emperor Akihito is scheduled to relinquish the throne on April 30, paving the way for his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, to take over the following day. The abdication will be the first in about 200 years because Imperial successions in modern history have been preceded by an emperor’s death.

The Emperor hinted at his desire to step down early during a rare, nationally televised video message in the summer of 2016 in which he said his advanced age was interfering with his ability to carry out public duties “with my whole being.”

Addressing the crowd, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for his part, said the Emperor has fulfilled his role as a symbol of the state and the people by aligning himself closely with the public, citing the numerous trips he and Empress Michiko have taken over the years to areas ravaged by natural calamities, and giving evacuees “courage and hope.” Abe also said their official visits to 35 countries over the past 30 years contributed to “deepening Japan’s friendship with other nations.”

The ceremony, attended by about 1,100 people ? ranging from lawmakers, bureaucrats, ambassadors, business executives and NGO representatives ? was punctuated by musical performances to rev up the celebratory mood.

Pop singer and dancer Daichi Miura was tapped to perform “Utagoe no Hibiki” (“Resonance of the Singing Voice”), a song written by the Emperor and composed by the Empress after their first-ever visit to Okinawa in 1975, when they were the Crown Prince and Crown Princess. Miura is an Okinawa native.

Sunday also saw the government’s first use of facial recognition technology at a state-organized event to reduce waiting times and improve security.

An official said the government plans to use the system ? which it claims can identify human faces with an accuracy of more than 99 percent ? for large-scale Imperial events in the future, such as the enthronement ceremony in October.

The Japanese Communist Party, however, boycotted the ceremony. Keiji Kokuta, the Diet affairs chief for the JCP, told reporters Wednesday it was going to do so on the grounds that government-organized event amounted to “using the Emperor for political purposes.”

At his regular press briefing Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government is “fully prepared” for the abdication.

In fact, as part of the preparations, Abe took the highly unusual step Friday of visiting the Crown Prince at the Togu Palace for a face-to-face “explanation,” as a government official put it. Although Suga declined to disclose the details of their conversation, speculation is rife that Abe was briefing the Crown Prince on Japan’s state of affairs at home and abroad to better prepare him for his new role.

“I think it’s a matter of fact the prime minister would want to explain the situation abroad to the Crown Prince because he will be swamped with diplomatic duties the moment he becomes the Emperor,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to visit Japan in late May, possibly becoming the first foreign leader to be granted an audience with the new Emperor.

Photo from Asahi1 and 2

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The 30th Anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s Accession to the Throne Part 1

On 24th February, the ceremonies to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of HM Emperor Akihito’s Accession to the Throne.

HM Emperor Akihito ascend the throne on 7th January 1989 due to the death of Emperor Showa.

On the morning, the members of Imperial Family gathered at Imperial Palace to celebrate Their Majesties.

Photo from Asahi1 and 2

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Final Vacation

From 21st January to 25th January, HM Emperor Akihito and HM Empress Michiko visited Hayama Imperial Villa in Kanagawa Prefecture for the vacation.
It became the last time for Their Majesties to visit Hayama as the Emperor and the Empress.

Photo from Asahi and Sankei

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Final Sumo

On 20th January, HM Emperor Akihito and HM Empress Michiko to see the matches of the Grand Sumo Tournament took place in Tokyo.
It became the last time for Their Majesties to watch Sumo matches as the Emperor and the Empress.

Photo from Sankei

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New Year’s Poetry Reading

On 16th January, the members of Imperial Family attended the Ceremony of the Utakai Hajime (Imperial New Year’s Poetry Reading) took place at Imperial Palace.

It became the last time for Their Majesties to attend the Ceremony of Utakai Hajime.

Waka Poems by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Princess

Text from Imperial Household Agency

Theme for the New Year’s Poetry Reading (2019) : HIKARI (LIGHT)

His Majesty the Emperor

These sunflowers grown
From seeds presented to us
How tall they now are
Their leaves spreading out widely
In the early summer light.

(Background of the poem)
Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress visited Hyogo Prefecture in 2005 to attend the Memorial Ceremony to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. On that occasion Their Majesties conversed with a girl representing the families of the deceased, who presented Them with some sunflower seeds called “Haruka’s Sunflowers.”* That year Their Majesties planted those seeds in the garden of the Imperial Residence, and ever since then, They have continued to grow those sunflowers every year, by planting the seeds taken after the flowering season. In this poem His Majesty describes how those sunflowers are thriving.

* “Haruka’s Sunflowers” are sunflowers which bloomed the summer following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake at the site of the home of Haruka Kato, a sixth grade girl who lost her life in the earthquake. The local people collected the seeds and distributed them widely as a symbol of remembrance and reconstruction.

 

Her Majesty the Empress

For a while longer
I resolve to live my life
Each garden rose
So serene and beautiful
In the waning light of dusk.

(Background of the poem)
Her Majesty the Empress has now reached a venerable age, which at times makes Her heart feel weary. One evening She noted that the roses in the rose garden of the Imperial Residence were blooming beautifully, each bloom standing out clearly and three-dimensionally in the serene light of dusk, a sight which gave Her a deep sense of peace. In this poem, Her Majesty reflects upon that moment of quiet joy and serenity when She resolved, for a while longer, to live out Her remaining days, treasuring each day as it comes.

 

His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince

Guided by the light
Breaking through the clouds,
I made my way up the ridges
Towards the peak of Mount Kinpu.

(Background of the poem)
His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince climbed Mount Kinpu, located on the boundary between Yamanashi and Nagano Prefectures, in July 1975 when he was in the first year of high school. On that day, it was cloudy but sometimes the sun shined through.
His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince composed this poem, recalling the impression he had when he made his way towards the peak of the mountain in such weather as if he were guided by the sunlight appearing from behind the clouds.

 

Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess

In the palace garden
Once cherished by our respected Majesty the Emperor
And my beloved mother-in-law the Empress,
Silver Birches glitter
Brightly in the morning sunlight.

(Background of the poem)
In the garden of The Crown Prince’s residence where Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress lived during Showa era, and where Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Princess now reside, there are silver birch trees, the symbol of Her Majesty the Empress, cherished by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress.
Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess composed this waka poem to describe the silver birch trees shining in the bright morning light, thankful for having been able to spend these twenty some years in the residence, appreciating the beautiful scenery of the garden.

Photo from Sankei1, 2 and Asahi

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Imperial New Year’s Lecture

On 11th January, the members of Imperial Family attended the Ceremony of Kosho Hajime (Imperial New Year’s Lecture) took place at Imperial Palace.

This is an annual ceremony in which Their Majesties listen to experts’ explanations in the fields of human, social and natural sciences in their respective field. It became the last time for Their Majesties to attend the Ceremony of Kosho Hajime before the abdication of HM Emperor Akihito on 30th April.

Photo from Mainichi

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President of Rwanda

On 8th January, HM Emperor Akihito and HM Empress Michiko met with HE Mr Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and the First Lady at Imperial Residence.

Photo from Asahi

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Remembering Emperor Showa

On 7th January, HM Emperor Akihito and HM Empress Michiko attended the memorial service for commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Emperor Showa (Emperor Hirohito) (1901-1989) took place at the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa in Tokyo. The other members of Imperial Family also attended the Ceremony.

On that day, HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako attended the ritual for commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of Emperor Showa at Imperial Palace Sanctuaries.

Photo from Asahi and Sankei

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Final New Year’s Greeting

On 2nd January, HM Emperor Akihito and the other members of Imperial Family appeared 7 times at People’s Greeting of New Year at Imperial Palace. About 154,800 people gathered at Imperial Palace and it is the largest number of the visitors during the reign of HM Emperor Akihito (1989-). It became the last time for HM Emperor Akihito to attend the People’s Greeting before his abdication on 30th April.

At the first appearance on that day, all adult members except HIH Princess Yoko of Mikasa appeared at the balcony of Imperial Palace.

Photo from Sankei

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