On the day he turned 80, Japan’s Emperor Akihito reiterated that he will still be doing most if not all of his official duties this year, within the limits of his health and age. It has been widely expected that the Emperor and the Empress will be handing over some of their official responsibilities to their children, especially as age catches up with Japan’s Imperial couple.
“While accepting the limits arising from age, I hope to continue to fulfill my role as best I can,” the Emperor said at his traditional pre-birthday press conference. There has already been speculation that Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, herself 79 already, will be turning down some trips this year. It has been revealed that next year will be the last time the Emperor and the Empress will make their customary annual visit to kindergartens on Children’s Day in May and facilities for the elderly on Respect for the Aged Day in September. The year after that, the responsibility for those visits will be given to their children, including Crown Prince Naruhito. “We already have quite an age gap with the children, while we will be around the same age as the elderly citizens,” added the Emperor. “My health has had no bearing on this decision.”
But the Emperor seems bent on still doing his official responsibilities as often as it is possible. When asked about passing on of his official duties to reduce his burden, he said, “I would like to maintain the status quo for the time being.” Emperor Akihito took the throne on Jan. 7, 1989, and is the second emperor to have turned 80 while on the throne, following his father Emperor Hirohito. Adding some insight into his marriage with the Empress Michiko, he said, “Being an Emperor can be a lonely state. I feel most fortunate that I have been able to endeavor to carry out my role as Emperor with the Empress by my side,” he said.
[via Japan Times]