When I consider that 25 years have passed since 1993, when we got married with everyone’s warm blessings, I am struck by the speed at which time passes and likewise deeply moved.
We have experienced a great deal together over these 25 years, and have walked forward together while helped one another and sharing joy as well as grief. Furthermore, since Aiko was born we have also endeavored to raise her with affection and create a home that is peaceful, warm and bright. We have spent our days as a family of three, and experienced firsthand the value of family bonds and of having a family. Now that Aiko has grown into a second-year high-school student, I am also overjoyed by the fact that she has become a companion we can talk to, and, on more and more occasions recently, the three of us have been attending various ceremonies and events together, such as the first National Ceremony for Mountain Day.
Amid that, when you asked about what I have borne in my mind in order to enjoy a happy marriage, what comes to mind is to think about my partner and to consider her perspective, as well as to talk to each other a lot and not to neglect to make “laughter” part of our lives even when times are tough. I appreciate and am sincerely grateful that over the past 25 years Masako has continued to persevere in various ways even when there were difficulties, and has solidly supported me and Aiko. It would be difficult to assign points, but instead, this time around I would like to award her a silver medal in recognition of our silver wedding anniversary, in addition to the two awards she received on the occasion of our 10th wedding anniversary – an “effort prize” and a “gratitude prize”.
I feel very thankful that we are able to celebrate 25 years of marriage thanks to the support we have received to date from a large number of people. I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress for watching over the three of us warmly and providing guidance. I would also like to take this opportunity to, once again, convey my sincere feelings of appreciation to everyone who shows their warm affection to us.
Our wedding day on June 9, 25 years ago, which we celebrated with the warm blessings of a large number of citizens, is something I look back on with fond memories. It seems like yesterday, yet at the same time it also feels like a long time ago.
These 25 years seem short but they also seem long, and while there was a lot of happiness there was also sadness. However, I am filled with a feeling of gratitude for the constant support that His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince has been providing at my side. When I look back on the 25 years up to now, various events flash through my mind, and I am deeply moved. I look back nostalgically at the period shortly after I entered the Imperial Household, when I attended each of my first official duties while receiving advice from His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince.
Over this 25-year period Japan has also been visited by major natural disasters, including the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Great East Japan Earthquake, and when we think of the sadness and hardship of the huge number of people who have lost loved ones and been affected on each occasion, we are deeply saddened and do not view this as something that does not concern us. At the same time, we are given great hope and courage by the sight of people helping each other to recover and overcoming difficulties in the midst of those circumstances.
Aiko’s birth at the end of 2001 brought us great happiness. I am truly grateful to His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince for willingly helping to rear Aiko from the time she was born, as well as for giving me various pieces of advice. As many others have experienced, rearing children is also accompanied by hardship from time to time, but being next to Aiko as she grows older, and spending time with her brings us joy and pleasure that is irreplaceable.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince for always helping me so kindly and with sensitive thoughtfulness after my physical condition deteriorated. I have been, on my part, striving to help His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince while taking into account his position and views, and, looking ahead, I intend to continue striving to be of use to His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince, if even in a small way, so that he is able to perform his important duties well.
With regard to the question of points, I cannot find an answer that better fits my feelings than the “gratitude letter” that Her Majesty the Empress presented to His Majesty the Emperor when Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and so in answering your question, perhaps I too could follow Her Majesty’s example and present His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince with a “gratitude letter”....And His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince has now said that he gives me awards and a “silver medal,” which I do not deserve. Along with being extremely grateful for that generous sentiment, I also harbor doubts about whether or not I will be able to receive a “gold medal” on our golden wedding anniversary. Nevertheless, from here on also I will make the utmost effort to ensure that we build a warm home.
Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress have warmly watched over our 25 years of marriage. I would like to take this opportunity to again express my sincere feeling of gratitude to Their Majesties. Furthermore, I am deeply grateful that we are able to celebrate our 25th anniversary thanks to the truly large number of people who have shown kindness to our family and helped us. In particular, I realize that many people have been concerned about my health since my physical condition deteriorated, and I would like to offer my sincere prayers to all those who regularly support us and all those citizens who have warmly watched over our path during these 25 years.
Over the past 25 years we have observed the moves of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress in detail. We once again feel deeply moved by and great respect for the way Their Majesties have engaged wholeheartedly in each and every one of their official duties up to now. And under the guidance of Their Majesties, we too have built up a variety of experience while cooperating with one another. So at this juncture of 25 years, we intend to continue engaging in each of our official duties while cooperating with one another and praying for the happiness of people with renewed spirit, and on the basis of our experiences thus far.
With regard to how we will approach the next era of the Imperial Household, I believe it will be important to inherit the Imperial Household’s long-running traditions, which Their Majesties have also attached importance to, while solidly fulfilling the role of the Emperor as a “symbol,” as is prescribed in the current constitution. In pursuing an approach as a symbol, I believe it will be important to act while giving thought to a format that complies with changes in society and duties that correspond to them. In the past I have mentioned water-related issues, which I have also been personally involved in, environmental issues, and the circumstances surrounding children and the elderly as among our “new official duties.” I intend to engage earnestly in official duties like these, since I believe there would be the needs of society with regard to such new official duties.
At the same time, I also believe it is important to deepen mutual understanding with the countries of the world, and so I hope I will play a role in international goodwill and cultural exchange fronts. Furthermore, I intend to attach importance to exchanges with young people, who will be in charge of the future of Japan and the world.
Masako continues to work towards recovery with all her might, while taking care of her physical condition and with repeated effort and ingenuity. Standing by her side, this is something I can observe clearly. I hope the people of Japan will continue to watch over Masako’s recovery warmly and from a long-term perspective.
Over this 25-year period, Japan has been repeatedly struck by major natural disasters such as the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Great East Japan Earthquake, and it has also experienced a large number of social changes. In the midst of that, Their Majesties have wholeheartedly engaged in each of their official duties while constantly praying for people’s happiness and sharing in their joys and sorrows, and this is something I feel very grateful for having been able to observe firsthand. I would also like to continue praying for all people’s happiness while constantly bearing in mind the things to which Their Majesties have attached importance to date.
In particular, when visiting regions affected by various natural disasters such as the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have felt keenly is the importance of people supporting one another, and we have also been keeping in our hearts the sadness and struggles of those who are placed in difficult circumstances, and praying that their lives will improve, even if by a small amount. We sincerely hope that steady, step-by-step progress in the recovery from the damages will be made so that those affected by disasters can resume the life with peace in mind as soon as possible, and we will keep the future of disaster-affected regions constantly in our hearts.
In addition, in consultation with His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince, I would like to consider what would be important to the people of Japan and the world, and to be involved in the affairs of the world.
I think the shapes that households and families take on may change from era to era, and this is not limited to the Imperial Household. I myself was also raised by Their Majesties while experiencing the warmness of the home. This was the result of the consideration shown by His Majesty the Emperor who was raised separately from his parents, and Her Majesty. At the same time, I believe that the foundation of families is feelings of mutual trust, respect and esteem among family members, and that this foundation aspect remains unchanged, regardless of the era.
In particular, in recent years it is said that people’s face-to-face relationships have begun to weaken, even though connectivity has broadened through electronic devices such as smartphones, thanks partly to the development of the Internet and SNS. So I think it is now an era in which connections between people are getting more important than ever before. In this context, I think the foundation for those connections between people is families and the home. Families are connected as a result of mutual trust and respect. In a similar way, people are connected with and understand one another through trust and respect, and, furthermore, regional communities, countries as a whole and the countries of the world will be firmly connected. I believe these sorts of connections are becoming increasingly important.
Families are small, but they represent the single unit that society is composed of. As His Majesty the Emperor also says, I think I myself have been able to deepen my understanding of people and families in many ways as a result of living with my family.
Additionally, in performing my various duties up to now, I feel strongly that the support and cooperation of my family has been a very important element. I once again feel grateful to my family for having supported me both officially and personally, and I too intend to cherish the feelings of trust, respect and esteem that I have for Masako and Aiko.
Aiko’s birth brought us great happiness, and I am deeply grateful that His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince actively participates in rearing Aiko and is raising Aiko with great care. Before Aiko joined us, His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince taught me about a variety of pleasures, such as mountain climbing and walking in the natural environment together, as well as music. And now, with the addition of Aiko creating a family of three, there are new things to laugh about every day, and we are discovering new joys and pleasures also. Furthermore, Aiko too has grown considerably, and recently she has also been helping me with various things.
When I look back on the days I have spent with His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince and Aiko over these 25 years, I believe a family is not only a place where we share daily pleasures, is also an irreplaceable entity where we support one another when times are hard and share joy when there are things that make us happy. And I feel sincerely fortunate and thankful for being blessed with a family like this.
In addition, my family has had pets such as abandoned dogs and cats that we raised affectionately and looked after. Pets such as these are also an important element as family members that bring us peace of mind and warmth.
In recent times, the shape of families appears to be growing more diverse accompanying the changes of the era, but in the midst of that I constantly pray for our society would be the one in which each family is happy, and in which the children in those families are able to believe in their respective potential and grow happily.