With regard to natural disasters that occurred this year in Japan, the first thing that comes to mind is Mount Shin-dake on the island Kuchinoerabu-jima in Kagoshima Prefecture, which erupted in May, producing a pyroclastic flow that reached the shoreline, forcing all the residents to evacuate from the island. Having witnessed pyroclastic flow when we visited Unzen after the Unzen-dake eruption there in 1991, we can well imagine how truly frightening pyroclastic flow reaching the shoreline must have been. Fortunately, all the residents were safe, but it pains me that the people still continue to live away from their own homes. In September, heavy rainfall caused Kinu-gawa and other rivers to flood, resulting in a huge disaster which claimed eight lives. When I think of the many people who were trapped inside their own homes due to the floods, I can only imagine the anxiety and uncertainty they must have felt. Thanks to the rescue operations by helicopters and other means carried out by the Self-Defense Forces and others, it was truly fortunate that those people were taken to safety. I am deeply grateful to those people who risked themselves and engaged in the rescue operations. The task of recovering and repairing the flooded houses and fields require much work, and I am glad that many people are volunteering to offer their help. It is most reassuring to see that there is a growing spirit in the hearts of the Japanese people to help others in difficulty. The Empress and I later visited the affected areas in the city of Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, and we saw the extensive areas of rice paddies and cultivated fields still covered in muddy water. Our hearts went out to the people whose crops were damaged, the crops they must have worked so hard to grow.
On the subject of this year’s happy news, I must cite the news of the two Japanese scientists who were awarded the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Satoshi Omura for his achievements, including the development from soil bacteria a drug that treats onchocerciasis, or river blindness, a disease especially prevalent in Africa and South America, that can cause blindness when humans are infected. I had seen heartbreaking images of people who had lost their vision to the disease walking in procession, so I was truly pleased to learn that medicine to cure this illness had been found. At the same time, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Dr. Takaaki Kajita for his neutrino research at Super-Kamiokande, an observatory located under the Kamioka mine, where he discovered that neutrinos have mass. It reminded me of our visit 11 years ago to Super-Kamiokande. I have nothing but sincere admiration for the many years of untiring dedication to their research made by the two scientists.
Another happy news was the completion and test flight of a Japan-made passenger jet. It brought back fond memories of watching the test flight at Haneda Airport of the YS-11, the first propeller-driven passenger aircraft made in Japan after World War II, together with those involved in its development. More than fifty years have gone by since then.
This year was a milestone year, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The war claimed a great many lives, nonmilitary as well as military. Had peace prevailed, these people could have led meaningful lives in various areas of society, and it pains me deeply to think of the many who lost their lives.
As an example of nonmilitary people who sacrificed their lives in the war, the sailors who served on civilian vessels come to mind. These people, who may have dreamed of one day becoming sailors on international routes, went to work as crews of civilian ships which had been requisitioned to transport soldiers and military goods, and lost their lives in enemy attacks. Japan, a country surrounded by sea, had developed as a maritime power. As a young child, I used to enjoy looking at postcards of ships. But I later learned that almost all of those vessels had been sunk in the war, except for the Hikawa Maru, which remained in service as a hospital ship. In those days, Japan lacked command of the air and no battleships were available to escort the transport vessels. It gives me great pain to think of the feelings of the sailors who had to engage in transport operations under such conditions. In June this year, the 45th memorial service for the civilian sailors who died while serving the country during the war and also after the war was held at the monument dedicated to them in Kanagawa Prefecture. I thought of the fallen sailors as the Empress and I attended the service and offered flowers.
In this milestone year, together with the Empress, I visited the Republic of Palau, which had once been under a Japanese mandate, and dedicated flowers at the Monument of the War Dead in the Western Pacific, erected by the Japanese government after the war, and at the US Army 81st Infantry Division Memorial, both on Peleliu Island. I am deeply grateful to the Presidents and First Ladies of the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia for joining us on this visit. Beyond the Monument of the War Dead is Angaur Island, where many people also lost their lives in fierce battle. Today, Angaur is a verdant island lush with trees, and it is difficult to imagine that fierce combat took place there. Seen from the air, the Republic of Palau is made up of beautiful islands surrounded by coral reefs. In these seas, however, lie countless unexploded bombs still submerged, and today, former Maritime Self-Defense Force disposal experts are engaged in clearing them. It is a dangerous task, and I learned that it will take a very long time for the seas of Palau to be safe again. That the last war has imposed a heavy burden on the people living on those islands must never be forgotten.
After our trip to Palau, we visited, in the summer, the districts of Kitaharao in Miyagi Prefecture, Chifuri in Tochigi Prefecture, and Ohinata in Nagano Prefecture, places which were settled and developed by returnees from foreign lands after the war. I could well imagine the toils of the people who, after having put immense effort into reclaiming land overseas, experienced the hardship of leaving that land and returning to Japan, where they again had to struggle and cultivate mostly barren soil, raise livestock, and rebuild their lives. Kitaharao, meaning “Palau of the north,” was settled by those who returned from Palau.
Looking back over the past year, I feel that it was a year in which I spent much time thinking about the war in various ways. With each passing year, we will have more and more Japanese who have never experienced war, but I believe having thorough knowledge about the last war and deepening our thoughts about the war is most important for the future of Japan.
I shall turn 82 on this birthday. I am beginning to feel my age, and there were times when I made some mistakes at events. It is my intention to minimize such incidents by continuing to do the best I can when carrying out each and every event.
As the year draws to a close, it is my hope that the next year will be an even better year for all the people.
Today His Majesty the Emperor celebrates His 82nd birthday in good health.
With regard to His official duties of state, this year His Majesty attended the Imperial Investiture of the Prime Minister, the accreditation of 136 Ministers of State and other senior officials, the presentation of Letters of Credentials by 26 newly arrived foreign ambassadors, and the awards and decoration ceremonies for the Order of the Grand Cordon and the Order of Culture. He signed or affixed His official seal to a total of 1,060 documents submitted by the Cabinet. At the Imperial Palace and the Imperial Residence, His Majesty met with a number of people, including the recipients of the Order of Culture and Persons of Cultural Merit, recipients of various orders and awards, members of the Japan Academy, members of the Japan Art Academy, persons newly recognized for maintaining Japan’s intangible cultural properties and their spouses, representatives of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers returning from their overseas posts, representatives of the Senior Overseas Volunteers and the youth and senior Volunteers for Nikkei Communities, recipients of the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship, established to commemorate Their Majesties’ wedding, personnel returning from international emergency aid missions, and representatives of associations of recovered leprosy patients from various countries visiting Japan. His Majesty expressed His appreciation to those individuals and groups, and offered them congratulations on a total of 73 occasions.
In particular, as this year was the centennial of Tokokai, an association founded in 1915 with the objectives of furthering the development of aids to navigation and providing mutual help among persons engaged in aids-to-navigation, or lighthouse, duties, Their Majesties hosted tea at the Imperial Palace to commemorate this milestone. Ties between the Imperial Family and Tokokai go back to the Meiji era, and Their Majesties have visited lighthouses in the various prefectures as well as the Tokyo Wan (Bay) Vessel Traffic Service Center on numerous occasions since Their days as Crown Prince and Princess. As His Majesty has fond memories of visiting Tsurugisaki-todai on the Miura Peninsula as a child before starting school at the Gakushin Elementary School, His Majesty, together with Her Majesty, took Their three children, the Crown Prince, Prince Akishino and Princess Nori (Mrs. Sayako Kuroda), in turn, to visit Nojimasaki-todai on the Boso Peninsula before each of them started kindergarten. From 1989, when His Majesty acceded to the throne, until 2003, Their Majesties held annual audiences at the Imperial Palace with persons of longtime service at lighthouses as a regular event. However, the tea held in November 2004, became the last of these events as the association asked to refrain from attending future audiences, siting the fact that living conditions of personnel had improved due to lighthouses becoming unmanned and other factors.
His Majesty also heard 13 lectures from administrative vice-ministers of government ministries and agencies and the Director-General of the Foreign Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He received explanatory briefings on 49 occasions regarding His official visits and attendances. He also met with the offerers of first-crop rice for the Niinamesai ritual and members of the Palace voluntary workforce. These totaled 63 occasions and 8,980 persons.
As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Their Majesties started making several trips last year to pay Their respects to those who lost their lives in the war. They traveled to Okinawa Prefecture in June last year, where They visited the National Cemetery for the War Dead in Okinawa, the memorial to the victims of the sunken evacuation ship Tsushima Maru and the Tsushima Maru Memorial Museum. In Nagasaki Prefecture, They visited Nagasaki Peace Park and the Megumi no Oka nursing home for atomic bomb survivors in October, and in Hiroshima Prefecture, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the Yano Orizuru-en nursing home for atomic bomb survivors, in December. In April this year, continuing Their travels, Their Majesties visited the Republic of Palau to pay Their tribute to the war dead and to foster international goodwill. This was Their Majesties’ first overseas journey to pay tribute to the war dead since They visited Saipan in June 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the end of the war. In Palau, They paid Their respects at the Monument of the War Dead in the Western Pacific and at the US Army 81st Infantry Division Memorial on Peleliu Island. They met with the President and First Lady of the Republic of Palau, as well as the Presidents and First Ladies of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who joined Them on this trip. They were welcomed by many people of Palau. In April, after returning to Japan, Their Majesties paid Their respects at Takao Mikoromo Hall, which is dedicated to those who contributed to Japan’s postwar recovery but lost their lives in industrial accidents at work. They offered Their prayers at Tokyo Memorial Hall, for the victims of natural disasters and the war dead, in May and attended a memorial service in June for sailors who died in the war while serving on merchant ships and other vessels requisitioned by the government.
During a private trip to Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures in June, Their Majesties visited the Kitaharao district in the town of Zao, Miyagi Prefecture, which was settled and developed by those who returned from the South Pacific island of Palau after the war. They also visited two districts settled by returnees from Manchuria: the Chifuri district in the town of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, in July and the Ohinata district in the town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, in August. On each of these visits, Their Majesties showed Their compassion for those who overcame hardships in the difficult postwar era. Also in August, They attended “An Evening of Peace Concert 2015” performed by the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
In March this year, His Majesty, together with Her Majesty the Empress, attended in Tokyo the Memorial Service to Commemorate the Fourth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which struck Japan on March 11, 2011. That same month, Their Majesties visited Miyagi Prefecture to attend the opening ceremony of the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction. On that occasion, Their Majesties also paid Their respects at a cenotaph in the city of Iwanuma and received briefings from the mayors of Iwanuma, Natori, Higashi Matsushima, and Ishinomaki on topics including the status of the recovery efforts. They also visited a strawberry farm in Higashi Matsushima and a kamaboko, or fish cake, factory in Ishinomaki, both recovering from the damage of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
In addition to the above, Their Majesties’ visits within Japan took Them in January to Hyogo Prefecture, where They attended the memorial ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Their Majesties traveled to Ishikawa Prefecture to attend the National Arbor Day Festival in May, and They also attended, in May, the Commemorative Ceremony Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of Kodomo no Kuni, or Children’s Land, which was founded to commemorate Their Majesties’ marriage, in the city of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. Their Majesties visited Aichi Prefecture in July to attend the opening ceremony of the 19th INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research) Congress. Their Majesties attended the National Sports Festival in Wakayama Prefecture in September, where They spoke to the victims of the flood on Kii Peninsula. In October, Their Majesties traveled to Oita Prefecture to attend the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of Taiyo no Ie, or Japan Sun Industries, a facility which helps persons with disabilities live independently. The facility has been deeply involved in disabled sports, including the 1964 Tokyo Paralympic Games, and Their Majesties had visited this and its related facilities four times before. That same month, Their Majesties went to Toyama Prefecture to attend the National Convention for the Development of an Abundantly Productive Sea. On that occasion, They visited the Toyama Prefectural Itai-itai (painful) Disease Museum and received a briefing on the history of overcoming pollution-related diseases. In November, Their Majesties visited the city of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, to attend a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, and in December, during the Week of Disabled Persons, They went to Chiba Prefecture to visit a facility where wheelchairs for disabled sports are manufactured.
The Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers program was established in 1965. Since the time of the first volunteers, Their Majesties have invited volunteers departing for overseas assignments to the Imperial Residence and offered them encouragement. Beginning in 1968, Their Majesties have also met with representatives of volunteers returning from their overseas posts. In addition to the above, Their Majesties have supported the JOCV program and volunteers in various other ways. They have met with volunteers overseas during Their visits to the countries where the volunteers were posted, attended events to commemorate the JOCV’s 10th anniversary and the ceremonies to commemorate the 20th, 30th, and 40th anniversaries, visited its training facility in Tokyo, paid a visit to volunteers who were hospitalized in Japan after having been injured in a traffic accident overseas, and dedicated flowers to a monument dedicated to volunteers who died in the line of duty. In total, Their Majesties have met with volunteers departing for overseas posts 138 times and with representatives of returning volunteers 45 times. In 1996, on the 30th anniversary of the program, Their Majesties passed on to the Crown Prince and Princess the duty of receiving in audience departing volunteers. However, They continue to regularly meet with representatives of returning Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, as well as those of the newly established youth and senior Volunteers for Nikkei Communities and returning Senior Overseas Volunteers.
With regard to private trips, which Their Majesties began planning themselves two years ago, They visited Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures in June. In Miyagi Prefecture, in addition to the Kitaharao district, settled by returnees from the island of Palau after the war, They went to look at the trees that They had planted on the occasion of the 1997 National Arbor Day Festival. In Yamagata Prefecture, Their Majesties visited a cherry farm in the city of Higashine and, after visiting the Benibana, or Safflower, Museum in the town of Kahoku, They conversed with those involved in safflower production whom They had met when They were Crown Prince and Princess. At Yamagata Airport, They received a briefing from the governor regarding the prefecture’s responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake. In July, Their Majesties made a visit to a peach farm in the town of Ko-ori, Fukushima Prefecture, a visit which was previously canceled due to heavy rainfall in July of 2013. They also visited post-disaster public housing in the city of Fukushima, where They conversed with evacuees from the village of Iitate and other affected areas. A visit to the city of Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, scheduled for September, had to be canceled because of the torrential rains that hit the Kanto and Tohoku regions just before Their Majesties’planned visit. In October, They traveled to the city of Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, to visit the affected areas and meet with the victims.
During the past year, Their Majesties made official and private regional visits to twenty-nine cities and eleven towns in fifteen prefectures in all, excluding Their visits to the Imperial Villas for rest and recuperation.
As part of His official duties, His Majesty made visits in and around Tokyo on 28 occasions, including the opening of the National Diet and the Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead and His customary attendance at the award ceremonies for the Japan Prize, the Japan Art Academy Award, and the Japan Academy Prize. He also attended the fifth award ceremony for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science’s Ikushi Prize, which was established with an endowment from His Majesty on the 20th year of His reign. Also, as this year was the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations University, Their Majesties visited the campus to converse with graduate students.
Their Majesties have had a very close relationship with the United Nations University. They attended the opening reception for the university in 1975 and observed classes in 2007. Acceding to their request, Their Majesties have invited to the Imperial Residence all six successive rectors of the university, from the first rector to the current sixth rector, to hear their explanations and to converse with them.
With regard to Japan’s relations with other countries, in June Their Majesties welcomed as a state guest His Excellency President Benigno Aquino III of the Republic of the Philippines, for whom Their Majesties attended the welcoming ceremony, had a meeting, held a banquet at the Imperial Palace, and visited his lodgings to bid farewell. His Majesty also welcomed a number of official guests on working visits to Japan. On His own, He met and held a luncheon for His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar. Together with Her Majesty the Empress, His Majesty met and held luncheons for His Excellency President Joko Widodo and the First Lady of Indonesia and His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni and the First Lady of Uganda, as well as meeting His Excellency President Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger and His Excellency President Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas of Uruguay. Their Majesties also met His Excellency President Andrzej Duda and the First Lady of Poland, His Excellency President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado and the First Lady of Honduras, and His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the First Lady of Turkey. Furthermore, His Majesty received in audience His Excellency General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam as an official guest, the Honorable Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong of Laos, the Honorable Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and the Honorable Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho of Portugal as official guests on working visits, and the Honorable Ogtay Asadov, Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. Their Majesties also received in audience the Honorable Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia and Mrs. Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the Honorable Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and Mrs. Agnese Landini, the Honorable Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka and Mrs. Wickremesinghe, and the Honorable Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of Papua New Guinea and Mrs. Lynda Babao-O’Neill, as official guests on working visits, as well as the Honorable Zandaakhuu Enkhbold, Speaker of the State Great Khural of Mongolia, and Mrs. Tumurbaatar Batulzii, the Honorable President Donald Tusk of the European Council and Mrs. Tusk, the Honorable President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission, the Honorable Miguel Barbosa Huerta, President of the Senate of Mexico, and Mrs. María del Rosario Orozco Caballero, the Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States, and Mrs. Roberts, and the Honorable Setya Novanto, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Indonesia as distinguished guests. Additionally, Their Majesties received in audience His Excellency Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium. They hosted luncheons at the Imperial Residence for His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge of the United Kingdom; Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark; and His Excellency President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. of Palau, His Excellency President Christopher J. Loeak of the Marshall Islands, and their First Ladies. Their Majesties held teas at the Imperial Residence for Dr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross; His Majesty King Mswati III and Her Royal Highness Ntentesa Noliqhwa Ayanda of Swaziland; His Excellency Bill Clinton, former President of the United States; Mrs. Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States; the Honorable George Ariyoshi, former Governor of Hawaii, and Mrs. Ariyoshi; His Excellency Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, former President of Chile and Mrs. Frei; Chancellor Daniel Hernández Ruipérez of the University of Salamanca in Spain, which Their Majesties visited twice, once as Crown Prince and Princess and again after His Majesty’s accession to the throne; and others. Their Majesties hosted a tea at the Imperial Palace for the national leaders attending the seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting. His Majesty also invited to tea at the Imperial Palace the national leaders and others attending the seventh Japan-Mekong Summit Meeting.
On the occasion of the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in the city of Sendai in March, Their Majesties met with His Excellency President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan and invited to tea Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, both of whom were attending the conference, on the day before the conference. Prior to the start of the conference the next day, They also met with the attending Heads of State, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, and government officials of participating countries.
As for ties with the diplomatic corps in Tokyo, during the past year Their Majesties invited to tea newly appointed foreign ambassadors representing 30 countries, after the presentation of the Letters of Credentials, along with their spouses; held luncheons for ambassadors representing 19 countries who had been in Japan for three years or longer, together with their spouses; and gave farewell audiences to ambassadors from 24 countries and their spouses upon completion of their assignments in Japan. His Majesty also met with newly appointed Japanese ambassadors and their spouses departing for overseas posts in 49 countries and invited to tea Japanese ambassadors and their spouses returning to Japan from 62 countries, and listened to their accounts of their experiences abroad.
Together with Her Majesty the Empress, this year His Majesty spent a few days at the Hayama Imperial Villa and the Nasu Imperial Villa. During Their stay in Nasu, Their Majesties visited the Chifuri District in Nasu, which was settled by returnees from Manchuria after World War II, in addition to Their annual visit to the local farmers. They also took a stroll in the Nasu Heisei-no-mori forest, which was created by transferring part of the Imperial Villa grounds from the Imperial Household Agency to the purview of the Ministry of the Environment in accordance with His Majesty’s wishes, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of His accession to the throne, and conversed with the visitors who were there at the time. Their Majesties spent late August in Karuizawa and Kusatsu.
This June marked the first anniversary of the passing of His Imperial Highness Prince Yoshihito of Katsura. After the first anniversary ceremony, Their Majesties visited the Toshimagaoka Cemetery to pay Their respects. This month, Their Majesties hosted a private celebration for His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, His Majesty’s younger brother who turned 80 in November. They also attended a private celebration for His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa, the late Emperor Showa’s younger brother who celebrated his one hundredth birthday on December 2, and offered him Their congratulations.
As for the ritual ceremonies of the Imperial Palace, His Majesty attended 19 annual ceremonies, while two ceremonies were handled by court officials standing in His place. In this year’s Niinamesai Shinkaden-no-gi ceremony, His Majesty took part in the Evening Ritual for a shorter length of time, attending the ceremony halfway through the ritual, just as He did last year. For the Morning Ritual, in consideration of His Majesty’s health, His Majesty remained in the Imperial Residence for the duration of the ceremony.
As He does every year, His Majesty himself hand-sowed seed-rice, transplanted it, and hand-reaped the grain in the paddy field of the Biological Laboratory of the Imperial Household. Together with His children and grandchildren, He also sowed upland rice and millet and later harvested the grain. Some of the millet was added to the hand-reaped crop of rice used as an offering in the Niinamesai ritual. His Majesty also made an offering of rice plants with roots still attached, which He had planted, to the Ise Shrine on the occasion of the Kannamesai ritual there.
His Majesty continues his icthyological research at the Biological Laboratory of the Imperial Household, together with researchers from the National Institute of Genetics and other institutions, and the laboratory staff members. He listened to reports of studies and exchanged views on the species differentiation between two kinds of gobies, and the Serpentine goby, Pterogobius elepoides, and the whitegirdled goby, Pterogobius zonoleucus, by nuclear DNA analysis. His Majesty attended four meetings on fish classification held at the National Museum of Nature and Science this year.
Continuing from last year, many special events were held this year to commemorate His Majesty’s 80th birthday.
In the spring and autumn, special tours allowing the public inside the Imperial Palace took place, and visits to the Palace Grounds were held on Saturdays as well as the usual weekdays. In May, as a commemorative event to celebrate Their Majesties’ 80th birthdays, demonstrations of the traditional equestrian arts of dakyu, or ancient Japanese polo, and horohiki, or pennant streaming, were held at the riding tracks on the Palace Grounds, followed by tea at the Imperial Palace for the successive heads of the three branches of government and cabinet ministers who served during His Majesty’s reign. In December, continuing a new tradition which started last year, Inui-dori, the road along the Inui-bori moat, on the Palace Grounds was opened to the public.
On December 23, His Majesty’s birthday, He will receive felicitations from members of the staff of the Board of Chamberlains in the morning. Following this, His Majesty will attend five separate events at the Imperial Palace to receive felicitations from the members of the Imperial Family, the staff of the Imperial Household Agency, and others. During the day, His Majesty will appear on the balcony of the Chowa-den three times to receive congratulations from the public. In the afternoon, He will receive felicitations from the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the House of Councillors, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. After this He will be joined by other members of the Imperial Family at a celebratory luncheon attended by the heads of the three powers, member of the Cabinet, and representatives of various fields. This will be followed by tea with members of the diplomatic corps, tea with former senior officials of the Imperial Household Agency, and tea with lecturers and other guests. In the evening, He will receive birthday greetings from the young Prince and Princess. Later, His Majesty will sit down to a celebratory birthday dinner with Her Majesty, the children, and their spouses.
|Time||Greetings received by||Birthday Celebrations||Attended by||Location|
|9:30 a.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress||Felicitations and Toast of Celebratory Sake||Grand Chamberlain and staff members of the Board of Chamberlains||Imperial Residence|
|10:00 a.m.||His Majesty The Emperor||Felicitations||Grand Steward, Senior Officials and Special Advisors of the Imperial Household Agency||Imperial Palace|
|10:05 a.m.||Her Majesty The Empress||Felicitations||Grand Steward, Vice-Grand Steward representing staff members, Special Advisors||Imperial Palace|
|10:20 a.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress and other members of the Imperial Family||Birthday felicitations from the public||Imperial Palace|
|10:30 a.m.||His Majesty The Emperor||Felicitations Ceremony||Their Imperial Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and other members of the Imperial Family||Imperial Palace|
|10:30 a.m.||Her Majesty The Empress||Felicitations||The same as the above||Imperial Palace|
|10:40 a.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress||Toast of Celebratory Sake||Their Imperial Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess, other members of the Imperial Family, former members and relatives of the Imperial Family||Imperial Palace|
|11:00 a.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress and other members of the Imperial Family||Birthday felicitations from the public||Imperial Palace|
|11:05 a.m.||His Majesty The Emperor||Felicitations||Staff members of the Imperial Household Agency and the Imperial Guard Headquarters||Imperial Palace|
|11:30 a.m.||His Majesty The Emperor||Felicitations||Former staff members of the Imperial Household Agency and the Imperial Guard Headquarters||Imperial Palace|
|11:40 a.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress and other members of the Imperial Family||Birthday felicitations from the public||Imperial Palace|
|11:50 a.m.||His Majesty The Emperor||Felicitations||3 Representatives from the Toshokai||Imperial Palace|
|0:55 p.m.||His Majesty The Emperor||Felicitations Ceremony||Prime Minister, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President of the House of Councillors, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court||Imperial Palace|
|1:00 p.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress and other members of the Imperial Family||Celebratory Luncheon||Prime Minister and other senior officials||Imperial Palace|
|3:00 p.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress and other members of the Imperial Family||Celebratory Tea||Heads of diplomatic corps and their spouses||Imperial Palace|
|3:30 p.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress||Celebratory Tea||Former Special Advisors, senior officials of the Imperial Household Agency, etc.||Imperial Palace|
|4:40 p.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress||Celebratory Tea||Lecturers, friends and others||Imperial Residence|
|6:00 p.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress||Felicitations||Their Imperial Highnesses Princess Aiko and Prince Hisahito||Imperial Residence|
|6:30 p.m.||Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress||Celebratory Dinner||Their Imperial Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Prince and Princess Akishino, Mr. and Mrs. Kuroda||Imperial Residence|