Date:February 19, 2010
At the Residence
I feel surprise that I have already turned 50, while at the same time I also feel that life has just started and I must continue to educate myself.
The words "know the will of heaven" by Confucius which were quoted at the beginning of the question mean to know the purpose of one's birth into this world. However, I believe that these words also hold the meaning that one should not only know this purpose, but should also use that knowledge for the world, in other words, for the good of mankind. Speaking of words by Confucius, I believe His Majesty The Emperor answered in response to a question at the press conference held on the occasion of his 50th birthday with the words of Confucius, "The master's duty is loyalty and compassion, nothing less." "Loyalty and compassion" signifies one's own sincerity and the consideration towards others which stems from it. His Majesty The Emperor states that this spirit is extremely important, not only for each individual, but that a life of loyalty and reciprocity is extremely important for the country of Japan as well. Based on the teaching of "loyalty and compassion" and "to know the will of heaven," I have reaffirmed my resolve to do what I can for the world and for the people, while keeping consideration for others in my heart.
Speaking of teachings, at the press conference on the occasion of my graduation from university I talked about learning of the achievements of past Emperors, during which I learned about the teachings of Emperor Hanazono, the 95th Emperor of Japan. In a letter to the then Crown Prince - who went on to became Emperor Kogon - Emperor Hanazono explained the importance of cultivating virtue and that in order to do so one must pursue their studies. I recall that I was greatly inspired by this. The studies of which Emperor Hanazono spoke were not simply studies for the purpose of becoming learned. He used the term "studies" to include learning the morals and courtesy that one should learn as a human being. At 50, I too have recognized anew the importance of learning.
Fifty years constitutes half a century and the months and years of this span of time hold weight. During these 50 years, Japan has changed significantly through dramatic economic development and great social transformation. The Winter Olympic Games are currently being held in Vancouver, Canada. My first memories of the Olympic Games go back to the Tokyo Olympics held in 1964. Through the World Exposition and various other events since then, I have experienced from my childhood the postwar development of Japan and Japan's development in the world. At the same time Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress told me about the times before I was born and I am very grateful for this. I myself have experienced much change in both my public and private lives. Publicly, I walked the path toward becoming Crown Prince under the guidance of Their Majesties. Personally, I grew up with the warm love of Their Majesties and I was thankfully given opportunities to experience many things including studying abroad. With my marriage to Masako and the birth of Aiko, I have come to have a warm family of my own where I can be at peace. Reaching an age at which I should "know the will of heaven," I have renewed my resolve not to forget the sense of gratitude I have for Their Majesties and the many people who have cared for me, and to further continue my self-education. At the same time, I also feel strongly the importance of helping Their Majesties in their senior years.
As for the question regarding my thoughts on official duties including how a symbolic Emperor should be interpreted, I believe what His Majesty The Emperor has stated repeatedly is important: to think back to the path traveled by past Emperors and to keep in mind the stipulation of the Constitution of Japan that "the Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the People," while sharing the joys and sorrows of the people, hoping for their happiness, thinking about how a symbol should be seen, and continuing to seek the answer to what the ideal role of the Emperor should be. As for new official duties that are in step with the times, Japanese society has changed greatly in the past 50 years and it will continue to change in the future. I believe that social requirements for official duties will also change in accordance with this and I believe that it is important to respond to the new requirements of society. In the past, I have talked on subjects such as water issues, environmental issues, and children and senior citizens, as subjects of future interest. However, I believe that society's needs for new official duties will not be limited to these fields and I intend to take on these duties seriously.
I take what His Majesty The Emperor said seriously. There have been opportunities to discuss various subjects with Prince Akishino and I am sure there will be such opportunities in the future as well.
Regarding my thoughts on the future role of the Imperial Family, which relates to the previous question, I believe that as a new wind blows in each era, the role of the Imperial Family changes in each era as well. I would like to learn various things from the past while pursuing the ideal role that the Imperial Family should take in the future.
As for issues regarding the system of the Imperial Family raised in the question, I would like to refrain from commenting.
Masako's condition is steadily moving toward recovery compared to when she first started treatment five and a half years ago, as was recently announced in the comments of the doctors to the Crown Prince's Household. I am grateful to Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress and to the many people of Japan, who warmly watched over her. I myself see from close up how Masako is making sincere efforts to get well and how much she has recovered. That said, the situation remains unchanged that she requires treatment and I intend to support her further recovery in accordance with the comments of the doctors.
I do not believe it is easy to find an activity that would lead to a lifework. I hope Masako, without undue haste, will take sufficient time to find one. An environment in which she will have room to breathe is important for this and I intend to cooperate as much as possible in order to create such an environment. Regarding overseas visits, I would like to discuss the possibility with Masako in accordance with the comments of the doctors and in consultation with the people around us on what kind of opportunities there may be.
I feel strongly that children grow very quickly at this stage. Aiko has become completely accustomed to her life at school and enjoys going to school every day. I am grateful that the teachers at school and friends take good care of her. She seems to be enjoying a great sense of fulfillment through experiences both in school and outside it, such as a school trip to the post office in January, and we are very happy about this. She also works hard at writing poems, practicing kanji characters, and learning the multiplication table. Her interests are growing outside of her school life as well. She started showing interest in baseball last spring as she enthusiastically followed the performance of the Japanese team during the World Baseball Classic games and later went to her first professional baseball game at Jingu Stadium. She sometimes watches the games of the current Vancouver Olympic Winter Games on television. Compared to the Turin Olympic Games four years ago, I can see that her interest in winter sports is growing and I feel this is another sign of her growing up.
Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress always watch over her growth warmly and I am truly grateful that they devote attention to her on various occasions. They invite her to sow and harvest rice and millet and to the year-end mochi making with them, fold colored paper with her, read to her, and play Aiko's favorite pieces on the piano, among many other activities. Aiko, too, is always looking forward to seeing Their Majesties and brings them flowers from the garden or vegetables from the fields, and always looks forward to showing them her beloved dog Yuri. She also takes very good care of the presents she received from Their Majesties on her birthday and other occasions. At the Palace, on occasion we are joined by Prince Akishino's family, and the children play well together.
What left an impression on me in this past year, first of all, were the various events surrounding Their Majesties' 50th wedding anniversary and the 20th anniversary of His Majesty's enthronement. Participating in many of these events with them, we thought back again on the path Their Majesties have traversed and we have learned much from it. Aside from these events, the change of government and the start of the lay judge system that was mentioned in the question were also events that stayed in my mind. Additionally, I think that the inauguration of President Barack Obama of the United States was also a historical event.
There was also the extremely tragic earthquake in Haiti in which many lives were lost. In Japan as well, there were natural disasters such as the torrential rainfall in the Kyushu and Chugoku regions last July. I am pained to think that there are still many people losing their lives or losing places to live because of disasters such as these. Last month, I attended the memorial ceremony to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. I was greatly touched by the sight of people still working hard to overcome their unhealed grief and to use their experiences to build a town and society in which people can live safely.
At times like these, I think what is most important is to have a spirit of charity and consideration for others and to help one another. After the Great Hanshi-Awaji Earthquake, many people extended a helping hand not only from within Japan, but from abroad as well. I hear that the situation in Haiti is the same. I believe that it is important to continue to hold these feelings of consideration towards others, to live each day fully, and to take action when necessary.
This was also a year in which I thought deeply about the difficult situation of the domestic and world economy as well as the severe situation the economy has placed the people of Japan in. I hope from my heart that people will join hands and overcome this difficult situation.
Considering these situations, I will go back to the words I said at the opening of this press conference. I feel that the word "compassion" of "loyalty and compassion," in other words, to hold feelings of consideration towards others, will become more and more important in the future.
As I just answered in response to the question about official duties, it is important to keep in mind the stipulation of the Constitution of Japan that "the Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the People," while sharing the joys and sorrows of the people, hoping for their happiness, thinking about how a symbol should be seen, and continuing to seek the answer to what the ideal role of the Emperor should be. In this sense, the opinion that I gave more than 20 years ago, that an Imperial Family that goes among the people is important and that it is necessary to create opportunities to meet with as many people as possible, has not changed to this day. Regarding the extent to which I have achieved this, I believe I responded then that it was still an ongoing process. I just stated earlier that on turning 50, I feel the importance of continuing to learn and I think I can tell you even now that I am still only halfway there.
As I just stated, compared to before, Masako's health is heading toward recovery. Now, under these circumstances, if it is good for her convalescence to make an overseas visit, then I think we should do so. However, while this is based on the comments of the doctors, I would like to consult with the people around us as to what opportunities there may be to go on a visit and discuss the matter with Masako as well.