April 2, 2002
To begin with, allow me to express my heartfelt gratitude for the warm congratulations we received from so many people on the occasion of the birth of our child. I would also like to thank the stork that brought our daughter to us. When I heard of the pregnancy, frankly speaking, I was overjoyed. I sincerely hoped for the safe birth of a healthy child. Also, I believe Princess Masako went through a great deal of hardship during the long, ten-month period of her confinement. After the pregnancy was confirmed, at the various check-ups, the fetus first appeared like a tiny dot, and then to be able to watch with my own eyes as it steadily grew provided me with an experience that impressed upon me the mystique and wonder of life. Until about the eighth month of her pregnancy Princess Masako did not show to any great extent, but from the eighth month, I felt that she suddenly became a good deal larger, and at this time I was surprised when the kicking movements of the fetus inside could be felt from outside. Concerning pressure, I think it was greater prior to the pregnancy. After the pregnancy had been confirmed, I was hoping for the safe birth of our child and also that Masako should remain in good health, and so I did not really feel so much pressure. Finally, at the time of the birth, I was moved by the fact that we are in the cycle of life on earth, the continuous succession of which has continued since the beginning of life itself. That concludes my response.
I would also like to begin by expressing my most heartfelt thanks to the many people who offered their congratulations and celebrations. Since the time of the announcement of the pregnancy and until the time of the birth, the fact that I have been enveloped by the warm wishes and congratulatory spirit of the people of Japan was truly encouraging for me, on this, the occasion of my first pregnancy. In addition, after the birth, I was truly most sincerely overjoyed and grateful as a parent to receive the congratulations of so many people on the birth of our child. During the pregnancy, while I was looking forward to the birth, at the same time, perhaps due to the fact that this was my first pregnancy, I was also concerned about being able to give birth safely, among other concerns. However, with the support of the doctors and many people around me, I was able to pass ten months and safely give birth to our child, which is something I am most sincerely grateful for.
During the pregnancy, there were a continuous succession of experiences that were new to me, but once our child was actually born I now happily remember every single movement she made when she was in the womb, and I take great pleasure and enjoyment in these remembrances and experiences. Then, concerning the birth itself, well, I think it can be safely said that the birth of a child is truly something full of great meaning and emotion. At the time when I had given birth safely, at the same time as feeling relieved, when I saw the little child who had just been born and brought to my arms for the first time, I was at once so overcome with feelings of true gratitude for the birth as to tell my child, “Thank you very much for coming into the world.” The vision of that time still plays clearly in my mind's eye. I truly felt that to harbor for the first time a little life inside of oneself, and to nurture that life until the time comes when, with all the strength one possesses you give birth to that life and then begin to nurture it in the outside world, is truly a mystical and wonderful thing. Then, to see for oneself the life force within the child that you have given birth to--although it is a strange thing to say--I strongly feel that a child is born, in order to live and to be loved by its parents. During the pregnancy and until the birth, His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince shared all these experiences with me and I am sincerely grateful that he was always close by, offering a source of encouragement and continued support. Furthermore, during the pregnancy and also after the birth, I was treated with caring sensitivity and kindness by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, which overcomes me with such gratitude that I find I am unable to express it in words.
I am profoundly grateful for the thoughtfulness of H.I.H. Princess Takamatsu. I would say that our child has only just been born, and we are devoting ourselves to her upbringing. We will consider all other things in the future.
I am most grateful that H.I.H. Princess Takamatsu found it in her heart to pen those heartfelt words on the occasion of the birth of our child, and in addition to compose that wonderful poem. H.I.H. Princess Takamatsu has always been most kind and gentle, and her joy at the birth of our child is something for which I too, am greatly overjoyed and thankful for.
There are a number of variations based on the name Aiko, as I mentioned in my birthday press conference in February, but one example is Ai-chan. It is the case however, that the demeanor of children changes from time to time and according to Princess Aiko's expression, I change the name by which I call her. Aiko is also growing bigger and is starting to move around more, and the number of sounds she makes is also increasing. In addition, it can be often seen that her eyes are following objects around her. Recently in preparation for weaning, she has also started to drink barley tea, vegetable soup and apple and tangerine juice, all evidence of her continued growth and something that gives us great joy. I am sure it is the same for all parents, but when your child looks you in the face and greets you with a radiant smile, that is the most joyous occasion. Masako and I have cooperated in a variety of ways so far and I intend for us to continue to cooperate in a variety of ways in the upbringing of our child. In bringing up your own child, you gain a sense of oneness with the child and also feel more togetherness as a couple. I believe that the role of the father in bringing up a child is also of great importance. During the time I was growing up, I also learned a great deal from my father, His Majesty the Emperor.
It is now four months since the birth of our child and I have really experienced for myself just how fast the growth of a child can be. Her body gets larger and larger and day by day there are a variety of things that happen, which, when you notice, you think, “Ah! Already she can do that!” which, I feel, truly represents a series of continuing daily discoveries. Recently I have seen Aiko using her own hands and enjoying various little things as she plays with her hands. In addition, just recently, when she looks at stuffed toys or dolls, she becomes greatly interested, looking at them with a big smile and while smiling at these toys she reaches out to touch them. If they are small enough, she also clutches these toys in her hands and brings them up to her mouth. Also, as I often wear a scarf around my neck, Aiko is now showing great interest in these scarves and will clutch the scarf and pull it about from right to left and around, or untie it altogether. She has also come to recognize us, her parents, and the people and staff around us who help, and when she sees our faces and the faces of these people she will smile joyously, and will also smile when we talk to her. Each of these things are the evidence of her growth that we have seen and they bring me great joy. I really do think, as H.I.H. The Crown Prince mentioned in his birthday press conference, that babies really are adorable. Concerning the upbringing of our child, we have the kind help of our staff, and I am truly happy and grateful that with their help we are able to happily bring up our child. Concerning hardship, I feel that sometimes it is difficult to know how to manage my time between official duties and related engagements and the upbringing of our child. On this point, I think that Her Majesty the Empress and other Imperial Princesses before me have experienced the same hardship and have devised some way to overcome it, which leads me to seek their advice in the upbringing of our child. In addition, H.I.H. The Crown Prince is helping me in the upbringing of our child and coupled with the fact that he cares for our child with great affection, Aiko is truly her father's daughter and adores her father.
In contrast to the experience of my father, His Majesty the Emperor, I was brought up by my parents' own hands and this is something for which I am profoundly grateful. Concerning education, I believe His Majesty has mentioned two points once before. The first of these is that parents and children and brothers and sisters should live together, and the second is the fact that education should be left to the school system. These two points were carried out for me and my brother and sister by His Majesty. Concerning the first point, due to the fact that I was able to live together with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, I would like to point out that I was able to be brought up watching the actions and ways of my parents. That is to say, I am most grateful for having had the benefit of being brought up by my parents and I would like Aiko too, to learn from what we are doing. Although I now feel a tremendous weight of responsibility, at the same time I would like our child to learn from the actions of my parents, Their Majesties. I believe that a family is the smallest unit of society. Through understanding a family I believe that one can understand society itself and this is a very important fact.
Concerning the second point made by His Majesty about leaving education to the school system, His Majesty himself attended some classes but not others during his childhood and this led him to state once that he had not been able to adequately steep himself in his school life. Due to the fact that I was able to receive my entire education at school, I was also able to enjoy my school life and through this school life I was able to make the acquaintance of many people and deepen exchange at various levels.
Concerning the upbringing of a child, this is something that I would like to continue to consider, but I would like our child to engage in exchange with a variety of people through school life. Concerning education at home, I would like to consider this based on our own experiences.
Next, concerning the statement by His Majesty, I believe that devotion to both family and to nation and society co-exist with each other. In the process of bringing up our child, I would like her to support His Majesty and I would like devotion to both nation and society to be cultivated within her. In addition, as a member of the Imperial Family, I would like her to have an exemplary upbringing, and to grow up to be a person who loves others and will be loved by others, and a person who respects others and will be respected by others, just as her name suggests. In the future, I believe that we will be able to learn a great deal from our daughter, and hope that we will carefully watch her and provide an education for her that will truly be able to bring out the potential that all children possess.
With the birth of our child, both of us have come to have a heightened interest in all manner of things relating to children. In order to create a society in which children can live in safety, if there is anything we can do to help in our position, we would be only too willing to do something. In addition, concerning the issue of overseas visits, as has been the case in the past, if there is a request for us to make an overseas visit, we would be only too glad to respond to such a request.
Not so many days have passed since the birth of our child and I do not yet know specifically what form my official duties should take in the future. However, I do sincerely hope for a society in which children can be loved and in which they can grow soundly. In addition, as a specific official duty, to date, when our schedule allowed for it, every autumn we have attended children's cultural festivals held in child welfare centers, and I would like to continue to pay attention to children who have been placed in such difficult circumstances. Furthermore, due to the fact that society is currently undergoing changes at great speed, in such a situation, I feel that a variety of great challenges surrounding the lives and activities of children will present themselves, such as the environment.
That is indeed a difficult question. As I mentioned, I was truly grateful for the birth of our child and…I don't know how best to put it into words, but I did experience a feeling of being overwhelmed by something that I cannot describe. Also, since I have become a mother, I have become easily moved to tears.