Japan’s former Emperor Akihito turns 90, continues to reflect on war

    Japan’s former Emperor Akihito turned 90 on Saturday, after having spent another peaceful year with his wife, former Empress Michiko while continuing to reflect on war and peace and those impacted by natural disasters, the Imperial Household Agency said.

    Keeping current with the latest news through newspapers and television, the former emperor, who stepped down from the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019, has also expressed concern over the extensive damage caused by heavy rains and the record-breaking heat in Japan this summer.

    He observes a moment of silence every year on four days commemorating World War II — Okinawa Memorial Day, the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the anniversary of Japan’s surrender — as well as the anniversaries of the Great Hanshin Earthquake and the Great East Japan Earthquake.

    In February, the former emperor visited exhibitions on Okinawan emigrants and Siberian internment camps, showing deep interest in the topics through his enthusiastic questioning.

    In conversations with his wife, the former emperor often discusses visiting a leprosy sanatorium in Okinawa, life in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, where he took refuge as a boy during the war, and the development of a district in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, for Japanese people to resettle after returning from the northeast Chinese region formerly known as Manchuria after the war, the agency said.

    He is particularly concerned about the situation in Fukushima Prefecture, where some former residents still face difficulties returning home due to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, which suffered core meltdowns following a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

    The former emperor often reflects on memories of people he met on past goodwill trips abroad. Since visiting Brazil in 1997, he has received essays every year from students at a Japanese-Brazilian school in Sao Paulo and reads them with delight each time, according to the agency.

    As part of his daily routine, the former emperor makes time to converse with his aides after dinner and has recently taken up playing Othello and shogi.

    His condition has remained relatively stable since receiving treatment for a heart failure diagnosis in July last year, and he continues to pursue his life’s work on goby fish research.

    Former Emperor Akihito became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in around 200 years and was succeeded by his eldest son, Emperor Naruhito.

    By TTU
    Source KYODO