Public Relations Materials

Celebrating the 88th Birthday of His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus Looking Back on the Heisei Era

  • 1.Prologue

  • Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi
    Ceremony of the Abdication of His Majesty the Emperor at Seiden State Hall
    April 30, 2019

  • His Majesty: “Today, I am concluding my duties as the Emperor. Since ascending the throne 30 years ago, I have performed my duties as the Emperor with a deep sense of trust in and respect for the people, and I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so. I sincerely thank the people who accepted and supported me in my role as the Symbol of the State.”

    Narration: On April 30, 2019, His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus abdicated, bringing to a close the 30 years of the Heisei Era.

    Narration: Together with Her Majesty the Empress Emerita, His Majesty has always wished for the happiness of the people, and walked together with the people, sharing in their joys and sorrows.

    Narration: Here we look back on the role of the Symbolic Emperor that His Majesty sought to fulfil and demonstrate to the people of Japan over the course of 30 years.

  • 2.Enthronement

  • Narration: The Heisei era began quietly in the midst of great sadness and a sense of loss.

  • Kenji-to-Shokei-no-gi
    Ceremony for Inheriting the Imperial Regalia and Seals
    January 7, 1989

  • Narration: On January 7, 1989, Emperor Showa passed away at the age of 87 and His Majesty acceded to the Throne, becoming the 125th Emperor of Japan.

  • Funeral Ceremony of His Late Majesty
    February 24, 1989

  • Narration: Following His Majesty’s accession to the Throne, many ceremonies and events were held in advance of the Funeral Ceremony of His Late Majesty, which was followed by a one year period of mourning.

    Narration: His Majesty began His duties as Emperor while engaging in the various ceremonies relating to Emperor Showa’s funeral.

  • Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi
    Ceremony of the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor
    November 12, 1990

  • Narration: November 1990, one year and ten months after His Majesty’s accession to the Throne.Against the backdrop of many extremist terrorist and guerilla incidents opposed to the Emperor system, the Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, Ceremony of the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor, was conducted in great solemnity.

    His Majesty: “I now perform the Ceremony of Enthronement at the Seiden State Hall and proclaim my enthronement to those at home and abroad.”

    Narration: His Majesty was the first Emperor to accede to the Throne under the new Constitution, which designates the Emperor as the Symbol of the State.

  • Press conference on the occasion of His Majesty’s accession to the Throne
    August 1989

  • Narration: Speaking on the occasion of His enthronement, His Majesty stated the following.

    His Majesty: “I seek to fulfil my duties as Emperor, bearing in mind the interpretation of the Symbolic Emperor as stipulated by the Constitution…The Constitution is the highest law of the nation and together with the people, I will endeavor to abide by the Constitution.”

    Narration: As “the Symbol of the State and the unity of the people,” His Majesty embarked on a journey, seeking what was required of Him in His role as the Emperor.

  • 3.Visit to Disaster-affected Regions

  • Narration: In the Heisei era, Japan was struck by a series of major natural disasters.

  • Volcanic eruption at Mt. Unzen Fugen Peak, causing large pyroclastic flow
    June 1991

  • Narration: In June 1991, a volcanic eruption occurred in Mt. Unzen’s Fugen Peak in Nagasaki Prefecture.

    Narration: This was the first time for a reigning Emperor and Empress to visit disaster-affected areas and offer their sympathies directly to the victims of the disaster.

  • Shimabara Municipal Gymnasium

  • Narration: Their Majesties knelt on the floor of the evacuation center.
    Many people were surprised to see them on the floor, but for Their Majesties it came most naturally as They wished to be close to the victims of the disaster as They listened to their stories.

    Resident: “I was speechless, I was so overwhelmed with joy.”

  • Hokkaido Nansei-Oki Earthquake
    July 12, 1993

  • Narration: In July 1993, the Hokkaido Nansei-Oki Earthquake struck southwestern Hokkaido.

  • Okushiri Island, Hokkaido
    July 27, 1993
    Okushiri Town Aonae Junior High School

  • Narration: Fifteen days after the earthquake, Their Majesties made a one-day visit to the disaster areas on Okushiri Island and in Setana Town in Hokkaido.

    His Majesty: “How did the school children fare? Were any affected by the disaster?”

    Teacher: “Four pupils lost their lives.”

    His Majesty: “…That is truly regrettable…”

    Narration: Their Majesties reached out to the people who were engulfed in sadness in the face of nature’s fury.

    Narration: While visiting the evacuation centers, Their Majesties offered words of encouragement, as They always do, to those people working diligently in the rescue and recovery efforts.

  • Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
    January 17, 1995

  • Narration: Early in the morning of January 17, 1995, the Hanshin-Awaji region was struck by an earthquake of unprecedented scale that claimed the lives of more than 6,400 people.

    Narration: It was on His Majesty’s suggestion that Their Majesties rode together on the same bus with the accompanying staff to ensure Their visit will not be a burden on those at the disaster site.
    This style was subsequently adopted and became the norm in all Their visits to disaster-affected areas.

    Their Majesties: “Stay strong,” “Take care,” “Look after each other.”

  • Former Sugahara market

  • Narration: The former Sugahara market, in Nagata Ward of Kobe City was entirely consumed by fire following the earthquake.

    Narration: Their Majesties bowed Their heads in silent prayer as They turned towards the burnt out area, where so many had lost their lives and search for the missing was still going on.

    Narration: Her Majesty then laid a bouquet of daffodils that had been picked that very morning in the gardens of the Imperial Residence, as a floral tribute.

  • Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture
    April 2001

  • Narration: In 2001, six years after the earthquake, Their Majesties paid another visit to Kobe City to see for themselves the state of reconstruction.

    Narration: At the site of the former Sugahara market, where Her Majesty had laid a bouquet of daffodils on her previous visit, there was now a park built as a symbol of recovery.

    Narration: In remembrance of Their Majesties’ visit, the local residents still plant and grow daffodils there.

  • Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.
    January 2005

  • Narration: January, 2005, the 10th Anniversary Commemoration of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

    Narration: At this ceremony, Their Majesties received seeds of “Haruka’s Sunflowers,” named in memory of the elementary school pupil who had perished in the disaster. After the disaster, sunflowers started blooming in the site of her former home.

  • Haruka’s Sunflowers

  • Narration: Sunflowers grown from those seeds are still lovingly cared for and grown in the Imperial Palace and in the gardens of the Imperial Residence to this day.

  • Volcanic eruption on Miyake-jima Island
    July 2000

  • Narration: In September 2000, all of the residents of Miyake-jima Island had to evacuate due to the volcanic eruption on the island.

  • Tokyo Metropolitan Akikawa High School
    December 2000

  • Narration: Many of the children were separated from their parents and sent to Tokyo to stay at Metropolitan Akikawa High School.
    Their Majesties sent them packages of ginger tea and sweet bean porridge in the winter, and ice cream from the Imperial Stock Farm in the summer.

  • Miyake-jima Island “Genki Farm,” Tokyo
    March 2002

  • Narration: In preparation for their return home, at the “Genki Farm” in Hachioji City, the islanders cultivated seedlings of special produce, such as “Ashitaba” angelica and “Red-eye” sweet potatoes.

  • Shimoda Maritime College, Shizuoka Prefecture
    August 2001

  • Narration: Shimoda Maritime College, where people who evacuated from the island continued to engage in fishery.
    On many occasions Their Majesties visited various locations where the islanders evacuated to offer words of encouragement.

  • Miyake-jima Island
    March 2006

  • Narration: Even after the islanders returned home, every year at the time when they were forced to evacuate, a large plate donated by Miyake Town made from volcanic ash would be displayed at the Imperial Residence. The thought of the islanders is never far from the mind of Their Majesties.

  • Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake
    October 23, 2004

  • Narration: The Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake struck in 2004.

  • Kawaguchi Junior High School, Kawaguchi Town
    November 2004

  • Narration: Their Majesties visited Niigata City, Nagaoka City, and Ojiya City, before arriving at the final stop on their visit, Kawaguchi Junior High School in Kawaguchi Town.

    Narration: Upon receiving a present made of origami from a girl at the school, Her Majesty smiled and said, “Thank you. I’ll learn how to make these when I get home.”

    Narration: As the helicopter took off into the evening skies, Their Majesties continued to wave to the large crowd of people, all affected by the earthquake, who had come to wave them goodbye.

  • Great East Japan Earthquake
    March 11, 2011

  • Narration: On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck Japan. With a magnitude of 9.0 it was the largest earthquake Japan had ever experienced.

  • Message from His Majesty the Emperor regarding the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake
    March 16, 2011

  • Narration: Five days after the earthquake His Majesty issued his first-ever televised message to the people of Japan, expressing the wish to share the hardships of the disaster with those affected, and to continue to care for the afflicted areas for years to come.

  • Audience with the President of the Republic of Togo at the Imperial Residence
    June 2011

  • Narration: Their Majesties asked to cut power at the Imperial Residence in line with the planned power cuts implemented in many regions. Various ceremonies were moved from the Imperial Palace to the Imperial Residence, as the Palace consumes larger volumes of electricity.

  • Nasu Imperial Villa, Tochigi Prefecture

  • Narration: In Tochigi Prefecture, staff facilities at the Nasu Imperial Villa were opened to those who had evacuated, and eggs and canned food from the Imperial Stock Farm were handed out to them.

    Narration: For seven consecutive weeks from the end of March, Their Majesties visited a total of seven prefectures and met with the people who were living as evacuees.

    His Majesty: “How is your health?”

    Evacuee: “My wife’s health has suffered a bit …”

    His Majesty: “That must be worrying for you.”

    Interview with disaster victim: “The visit by Their Majesties has made me feel so much better.”

    His Majesty: “Please take good care of yourselves.”

    Narration: Their Majesties’ visits to the disaster areas brought solace to the hearts of those affected, and through the press coverage of Their visits, those affected and the wider public who were concerned about the disaster areas were brought closer together.

  • Message from His Majesty the Emperor regarding His duties as a symbol of the State
    August 2016

  • Narration: In August 2016, before His Majesty’s abdication, His Majesty spoke about His duties as a Symbol of the State.

    His Majesty: “I have considered that the first and foremost duty of the Emperor is to pray for peace and happiness of all the people. At the same time, I also believe that in some cases it is essential to stand by the people, listen to their voices, and be close to them in their thoughts.”

  • 4.Visits to Welfare Facilities

  • Narration: Since His Majesty’s accession to the Throne, on the occasion of Children’s Day, Respect for the Aged Day, and the Day for Disabled Persons, Their Majesties have visited those related facilities.

  • Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-Kai, Tokyo
    July 1959

  • Narration: Their Majesties’ visits to welfare facilities began in July 1959, the year They were married, with a visit to the Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-Kai.

  • Facility for children with severe motor and intellectual disabilities
    Hanna-Sawarabi Gakuen, Gunma Prefecture
    July 1969

  • Narration: From an early stage Their Majesties have always held close to Their hearts children who are severely disabled physically and intellectually, and who have long faced harsh circumstances.

  • Facility for children with physical disabilities
    Nemunoki Gakuen, Shizuoka Prefecture
    April 1994

  • Narration: “Nemunoki Gakuen” was established by Ms. Miyagi Mariko as a welfare facility for children with physical disabilities. Their Majesties visited the facility on two occasions, deepening Their interactions with the people there.

  • 1st All Japan Skills Contest for Persons with Disabilities, Chiba Prefecture
    November 1972

  • Narration: His Majesty has been an early supporter of the concept of a society in which the disabled and non-disabled could live in harmony. In November 1972, His Majesty attended the first All Japan Skills Contest for Persons with Disabilities.

  • Crown Prince’s Residence
    October 1975

  • Narration: From the second contest onwards, His Majesty, who was then the Crown Prince, invited the gold prize winners to the Crown Prince’s Residence. Their Majesties have continued to support people with disabilities so they can improve their job skills and increase their employment opportunities.

  • 1st International Abilympics, Tokyo
    October 1981

  • Narration: In 1981, the year designated as the International Year of Disabled Persons by the United Nations, the first-ever “International Abilympics” was held in Tokyo, in which persons with disabilities competed, using their vocational skills. His Majesty served as the Honorary President of the event.

    Narration: Hearing that securing interpreters for the participants was proving difficult, His Majesty suggested to the organizers that there may be former Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers who had become proficient in local languages during their overseas assignments.

    Narration: At the welcome reception on October 20, Her Majesty the Empress Emerita received a surprising chorus of “Happy Birthday” from the participants, as October 20 is Her birthday.

  • Tokyo Paralympic Games
    November 1964

  • Narration: In 1964 the second Paralympic Games were held in Tokyo following the Tokyo Olympic Games.
    Unlike today, there was little public interest in or understanding for sports for the disabled at the time, and the Games were only able to be held thanks to the efforts and support of a small group of people.

    Narration: Hearing of the challenges they faced, Her Majesty spoke with His Majesty, who then consulted with the organizers of the Paralympic Games, lending His support towards the realization of the Games.

    Narration: His Majesty served as Honorary President of the Games and together with Her Majesty attended the opening ceremony and various events.

    Narration: The opening ceremony and athletics events for the Paralympic Games were held not in the National Stadium where the Olympics had been held, but at the adjacent Oda Field, which was the practice ground for the Olympics.

    Narration : One commentator praised the atmosphere of respect for human beings that is unique to the Paralympic Games, writing in his account of the Games, “In the shadow of the Olympics, a small, beautiful flower has blossomed.”

  • Inaugural ceremony for volunteer interpreters
    April 1964

  • Narration: Her Majesty also provided support for the running of the Games, including helping form a group of volunteer interpreters from the Japanese Red Cross Society members.

    Narration: The Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Paralympic Games at that time noted that as a result of Their Majesties’ firm support, “For the first time ever a light was shone on what was then an entirely unknown field of sports for the disabled.”

  • 1st National Sports Games for the Disabled, Gifu Prefecture
    November 1965
    2nd National Sport Games for the Disabled, Oita Prefecture
    November 1966

  • Narration: Following the success of the Paralympics and based on a proposal from His Majesty, from 1965 the National Sports Games for the Disabled came to be held every year, following on from the National Sports Festival, forming the foundation for today’s continuing development of sports for the disabled.

    Narration: This is what His Majesty said on the 10th Anniversary of His Accession to the Throne.

    Narration: (His Majesty) “I consider it an important duty of ours to be close in our hearts to the disabled, the elderly and those who suffer from disaster, as well as those who are dedicating themselves to others or society. It is with such a thought that we visit welfare facilities and disaster areas. What we have done in this regard cannot really be described as ‘activities.’ What we have tried to do as much as possible is to share our hearts with the people we meet at the facilities and disaster areas we visit.

  • 5.Visits to Hansen's Disease Sanatoriums

  • National Amami-Wakoen Sanatorium, Kagoshima Prefecture
    April 1968

  • Narration: The National Sanatorium Amami-Wakoen, the national sanatorium for Hansen’s disease on the island of Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture.
    It was with this visit in 1968 that Their Majesties’ visits to Hansen’s disease sanatoriums began.

  • National Sanatorium Nagashima-Aiseien, Okayama Prefecture
    October 2005
    Oshima Seishoen Sanatorium, Kagawa Prefecture
    October 2004

  • Narration: Their Majesties have met with the residents of all 14 Hansen’s disease sanatoriums in Japan and visited all of them except for the Oshima-Seishoen in Kagawa Prefecture, where the waters were too shallow for Their ship to land.

    Narration: On Their visits to the sanatoriums, Their Majesties held the hands of residents as they listened to the plights the residents faced and the discrimination and prejudice they experienced.

  • National Sanatorium Tohoku Shinseien, Miyagi Prefecture
    July 2014

  • Narration: Their Majesties have also paid Their respects at the ossuary, where the remains of the deceased residents are laid to rest.

  • National Sanatorium Okinawa Airakuen, Okinawa Prefecture
    July 1975

  • Narration: In 1975, Their Majesties visited the National Sanatorium Okinawa Airakuen in Okinawa.

    Narration: As Their Majesties were leaving, the residents broke out in a spontaneous chorus of Danjo Kareyoshi, Truly Auspicious, an Okinawan song celebrating the commencement of voyages.

    Narration: His Majesty put the impressions He felt in ryuka, a fixed verse form unique to Okinawa and, at His Majesty’s request, Her Majesty composed a tune to this ryuka.

    Song: Danjo Kareyoshino Utagoe no Hibiki Miokuru Egao Me ni do Nokoru

    Narration: The song, entitled Utagoe no Hibiki, Sound of the Singing Voices, was created and continues to be sung today.

  • At the Imperial Residence, meeting with representatives of associations of recovered leprosy patients from various countries visiting Japan
    January 2015

  • Narration: At the Imperial Residence, Their Majesties have met with representatives of associations of former patients from around the world who have recovered from Hansen’s disease and are now conducting outreach activities with the objective of eliminating discrimination and human rights violations caused by Hansen’s disease globally.

    Narration:One of the representatives said, “Their Majesties shook my hand warmly when even members of my own family hadn’t held my hand. At that moment I felt all the pain and suffering over the years vanish from my mind.”

  • 6.Praying for the Repose of the Souls of the War Dead

  • Press conference on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the Throne
    November 1999

  • His Majesty: “My earliest childhood memory goes back to 1937 when I was three years old. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred that year, and the war continued from then until August 1945. As I was growing up, there was not a time when there was no war. Because of the war, soldiers who fought for their countries and countless other people who lived in the areas affected by the war lost their lives. I feel an acute sense of sorrow and grief for them.”

  • Nagasaki
    July 1995

  • Narration: His Majesty has spoken on many occasions about the importance of never forgetting the horrors of war and passing on the lessons of the past and to endeavor to achieve peace.
    His Majesty also believes that it is important for people living in the present to remember and learn from those who lived in the past.

  • Hiroshima
    July 1995
    August 1995
    Tokyo Memorial Hall
    August 1995

  • Narration: In 1995, the year of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, Their Majesties visited Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Okinawa, and paid Their respects at the Tokyo Memorial Hall.

    Narration: Upon concluding these memorial visits, His Majesty stated the following: “I am deeply aware that the peace and prosperity we enjoy in Japan today is built upon the sacrifices of many people. I shall continue to pray for all those who died as a consequence of this war, never forgetting the grief of the bereaved families, and will continue to wish for world peace.”

  • Ceremony to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese War-Bereaved Families Association
    September 2012
    Ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Act on Special Aid to the Wounded and Sick Retired Soldiers and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Disabled Veterans Association
    October 2013

  • Narration: Their Majesties also attended ceremonies of the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, and the Japanese Disabled Veterans Association, expressing their concerns for the increasingly elderly bereaved family members and the long and arduous journey they have experienced.

  • 45th memorial service for the civilian sailors who died while serving the country during the war
    June 2015

  • Narration: Their Majesties have also paid their respects at memorials for sailors who perished in the Second World War in the line of duty, and those who perished on board civilian merchant ships that were requisitioned during the war.

  • Saipan
    June 2005

  • Narration: In 2005, 60 years after the Second World War, Their Majesties visited the island of Saipan, where 55,000 people had perished, including civilians. This was the first time for Their Majesties to embark on an overseas visit for the purpose of commemorating the war dead.

    Narration: On a beach where fierce fighting had taken place, Their Majesties heard how things were from the former Japanese soldiers.

  • Monument of the War Dead in the Mid-Pacific
    Second World War Memorial

  • Narration: Afterwards Their Majesties visited both Japanese and American memorials, offering their prayers for the repose of the souls of all those who had lost their lives in the battles on this island.

  • Banzai Cliff

  • Narration: At the Banzai Cliff, where many people had thrown themselves into the sea, Their Majesties bowed deeply in a moment of silent prayer.

    Narration: Looking down on the quiet blue ocean spreading out before him, His Majesty composed this waka poem:
    “Down below this cliff,
    Multitudinous the lives
    Thbrat people lost here,
    Where the ocean is so deep
    And the seas are blue and clear.”

  • Palau
    April 2015
    Monument of the War Dead in the Western Pacific

  • Narration: In 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Their Majesties visited Peleliu Island in Palau, a tropical island where about 10,000 Japanese soldiers and about 1,700 American soldiers lost their lives in fierce fighting.

  • US Army 81st Infantry Division Memorial

  • Narration: When leaving for Palau, His Majesty stated, “I believe that we must never forget that those beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean have such a tragic history.”

  • The Philippines
    January 2016
    Heroes’ Cemetery
    Monument dedicated to the souls of the Japanese war dead who perished in the Philippines

  • Narration: In 2016, His Majesty paid a visit to the Philippines as Emperor, where he paid his respects and presented floral tributes at the Heroes’ Cemetery entombing the Filipino war dead, and at the monument at Caliraya, on the island of Luzon, dedicated to the souls of the more than 510,000 Japanese war dead who perished in the Philippines.

  • Australia
    May 1973
    Cowra Japanese War Cemetery

  • Narration: Long before His Majesty’s accession to the Throne, Their Majesties travelled to Australia in 1973, where they visited the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery, approximately 320 km west of Sydney.

    Narration: This is a place where more than 230 Japanese soldiers were laid to rest after attempting a mass escape from the prisoner of war camp, knowing full well that they would be shot, but following the military code, “Never live to experience shame as a prisoner.”

  • Minamigahara Settlement, Nagano Prefecture
    August 2003
    Chifuri Settlement, Tochigi Prefecture
    September 2005

  • Narration: The visits of Their Majesties to reflect on the past also expanded to include the groups of settlers who had gone over to former Manchuria on the Chinese continent as settlers and repatriated after the war, only to endure years of hardships upon their return.

  • Ohinata Settlement, Nagano Prefecture
    August 1972
    Ohinata Settlement, Nagano Prefecture
    August 2008

  • Narration: The Ohinata settlement is in the town of Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture. During their annual summer visits to Karuizawa, Their Majesties visited this district on many occasions, deepening their exchanges with the families who were repatriated there from Manchuria after the war.

  • Manmo Peace Memorial Museum, Nagano Prefecture
    November 2016

  • Narration: In 2016, the year after the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Their Majesties visited the Manmo Kaitaku Heiwa Kinenkan, the peace memorial museum in Achi Village in Nagano Prefecture and listened to the stories of the returnees.

  • 7.Visits to Okinawa

  • Peace Memorial Park, Okinawa Prefecture

  • Narration: Towards the end of the Second World War, Okinawa Prefecture became a battlefield for a ground war that engulfed the local residents, claiming the lives of 200,000 people.

  • Okinawa
    April 1993

  • Narration: Their Majesties have visited Okinawa 11 times. Their visit in 1993 marked the first time that a reigning Emperor visited the prefecture.

    Narration: On their visits to Okinawa, Their Majesties always started by paying their respects to the war dead and meeting with the bereaved families, prioritizing them before all other events.

  • Press conference on the occasion of His Majesty’s Birthday
    December 1996

  • Narration: At a press conference His Majesty stated: “I feel that it is the duty of the people of the mainland to deepen their awareness of the history of Okinawa.”

    Narration: “I hope that as many people as possible who visit Okinawa will reflect on its history, where the blood of so many people was shed on these islands surrounded by coral reefs and beautiful seas.”

    Narration: In this way His Majesty expressed his hope that the people deepen their understanding of Okinawa’s tragic history and continue to reach out to Okinawa.

  • Tsushima Maru, ship carrying evacuating school children

  • Narration: The Tsushima Maru was a ship carrying evacuating school children which was attacked and sunk on its way from Okinawa to the mainland.

  • Kozakura no To, memorial to the victims of the sinking of Tsushima Maru
    June 2014

  • Narration: In 2014, Their Majesties paid their respects at the memorial to the more than 1,400 victims of the sinking, including about 800 children who were of the same age as Their Majesties at the time.
    Their Majesties also conversed with the victims’ families and survivors.

  • Audience with young reporters from Okinawa
    April 1963
    Audience with young reporters from Okinawa
    March 1979

  • Narration: Even before the reversion of Okinawa to Japan, since 1963 Their Majesties have invited elementary school children from Okinawa to the Imperial Residence to attend the “Mainland -Okinawa Young Journalists’ Meeting,” where Their Majesties and their children engaged in exchange with the child reporters.

  • Enjoying the traditional Okinawan dance
    October 1976

  • Narration: From early on, Their Majesties also invited to the Imperial Residence persons involved in Okinawa’s traditional performing arts, such as the sanshin and dance, and have cherished the culture of Okinawa.

  • National living treasures perform “Imperial bonds bring people together”
    April 2014

  • Narration: In April 2014, in gratitude for Their Majesties’ long years of support and to celebrate His Majesty’s 80th birthday, five living national treasures from Okinawa held a special commemorative performance in Tokyo titled “Imperial bonds bringing people together,” which was also attended by Their Majesties.

  • Omoro Botanical Gardens, Okinawa Commemorative National Government Park

  • Narration: The Omoro Botanical Gardens is where the plants described in the Omoro Soshi, considered the Manyoshu of Okinawa, can be observed.

  • Commemorative opening performance, Okinawa National Theater
    January 2004

  • Narration:The Okinawa National Theater promotes Okinawa’s traditional culture.
    Wishing to develop these facilities, His Majesty consulted with persons concerned.

  • Okinawa
    July 1975

  • Narration: In 1975, when Their Majesties first visited Okinawa to attend the Okinawa International Ocean Exposition, there was still strong opposition to the Imperial visit in Okinawa Prefecture.

    Narration: However, as Their Majesties continued to visit the prefecture, the people of Okinawa gradually came to realize the depth of feeling Their Majesties have for Okinawa and how they cherish the history and culture of Okinawa.

    Narration: Okinawa endured so many tragedies during the war, and it was 27 years after the end of the war that it was finally reverted to Japan.

    Narration: Keeping the history of Okinawa uppermost in their minds, Their Majesties have continued to wish sincerely that the people of Okinawa and the mainland will deepen mutual understanding and be bound strongly together.

  • 8.Visits to Outlying Islands

  • Genkai-jima, Fukuoka Prefecture
    October 2007
    Shodo-shima Island, Kagawa Prefecture
    October 2004
    Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture
    October 2006

  • Narration: In his message of August 2016, His Majesty stated, “In order to carry out the duties of the Emperor as the symbol of the State and as a symbol of the unity of the people…I have felt that my travels to various places throughout Japan, in particular, to remote places and islands, are important acts of the Emperor as the Symbol of the State.”

  • Okinoerabu-jima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture
    November 2017

  • Narration: Their Majesties have so far visited 55 outlying islands in 21 prefectures of Japan.

    Narration: In order to understand his people, His Majesty has long considered it important to know about the lives not only of those living in urban areas, but also of those living on the outlying islands and in mountainous regions.

  • Rishiri-to Island, Hokkaido
    August 2018

  • Narration: It is most encouraging for His Majesty to know that there are people throughout the nation who love their communities and work diligently and steadily to support them.

  • 9.Support for Social Contribution Activities

  • Audience with Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) at the Crown Prince’s Residence
    September 1966

  • Narration: Together, Their Majesties have supported a wide range of activities.

    Narration: The Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, JOCV program was established in 1965, and since its inception, Their Majesties have invited those volunteers departing for overseas assignments and those returning to Japan to their Residence.

  • JOCV Secretariat Hiroo Training Center
    October 1999

  • Narration: They have also visited JOCV training facilities.

  • The Philippines
    January 2016

  • Narration: On the occasion of their overseas visits, Their Majesties always make it a point to meet with JOCV volunteers stationed there.

  • Ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the JOCV
    November 2015

  • Narration: At the commemorative event to mark the 50th anniversary of the JOCV program, Their Majesties had a heartwarming reunion with former volunteers, who had now become quite elderly, and received words of appreciation for their long years of support for the JOCV.

  • Representatives of Youth Volunteers for Nikkei Communities
    September 2017
    Meeting with Senior Overseas Volunteers and Volunteers for Nikkei Communities
    March 2018

  • Narration: Their Majesties have also been inviting junior and senior volunteers for Nikkei Communities to the Imperial Residence since 1996, when these volunteer activities began.

  • International Peace Cooperation Corps members
    November 2010

  • Narration: At the Imperial Palace, Their Majesties meet with the members of the Japan Disaster Relief Team and the International Peace Cooperation Corps to express their appreciation for their work.

  • Tea party for Toko-kai, Lighthouse Association
    December 2015

  • Narration: Until operations of lighthouses became fully automated, Their Majesties were also concerned for the people who worked in remote lighthouses under harsh conditions.

  • Observing the achievements of the recipients of the Emperor’s Prize at the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Festival
    January 2017

  • Narration: Every year Their Majesties invited recipients of the Emperor’s Prize at the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Festival to the Imperial Palace to hear about their achievements.

  • Shimozato agricultural district, Saitama Prefecture
    November 2014

  • Narration: From time to time Their Majesties also visited the places where they worked.

  • JSPS Ikushi Prize Ceremony
    March 2015

  • Narration: Their Majesties proposed the Ikushi Prize of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to encourage and support young researchers in contributing to future scientific advancements.

  • Reception following the Japan Prize banquet
    April 2017

  • Narration: They also arranged to meet with those young researchers after the banquet for the Japan Prize ceremony.

  • Company visit
    July 2017

  • Narration: His Majesty also made it a part of his regular annual schedule to visit companies and research facilities, both large and small.

  • Japan Prize award ceremony
    April 2018
    Tea party for the recipients of the Japan Academy Prize and new Academy members
    June 2017
    Audience with recipients of national honors
    May 2017

  • Narration: His Majesty has considered it an important duty of the Emperor, as the Symbol of the State, to meet with people who are making contributions in various sectors of society, by attending all kinds of events and ceremonies, and also by inviting people to the Imperial Palace and Imperial Residence.

  • 10.Dedication to International Goodwill

  • Canada
    July 2009

  • Narration: During his reign as Emperor, His Majesty, accompanied by Her Majesty, made 20 overseas visits to a total of 47 countries.

  • Norway
    May 2005

  • Narration: When he was Crown Prince, His Majesty made 22 overseas visits to 68 countries, also accompanied by Her Majesty. In total, His Majesty has made 42 overseas visits to a total of 115 countries.

  • 1953

  • Narration: His Majesty’s first overseas visit was in 1953, when he attended the coronation ceremony of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as a representative of Emperor Showa.

    Narration: Although there was still some ill feeling towards Japan in North America and Europe at the time, His Majesty’s visit to 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, and European countries, provided a valuable opportunity for Him to deepen international goodwill towards those countries.

  • 1964

  • Narration: It was during this visit that His Majesty met His Majesty King Baudouin of Belgium, who became a lifelong friend.

  • Belgium
    August 1993

  • Narration: When King Baudouin passed away, His Majesty travelled to Belgium to attend the funeral ceremony.

  • United Kingdom
    May 1998

  • Narration: At the time of Their Majesties’ visits to the United Kingdom in 1998 and to the Netherlands in 2000, there were protests by a number of former prisoners of war and civilians detained by the Japanese military during the Second World War, which made the atmosphere very delicate and difficult.

    Narration: In the United Kingdom, Their Majesties had the support of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, with whom they have enjoyed many years of friendship. In addition, Their Majesties’ sincerity and warmth managed to win the public over and helped to widen the welcome they received.

  • The Netherlands
    May 2000

  • Narration: On the occasion of Their visit to the Netherlands, the atmosphere was fraught with even greater tension.

    Narration: Watched by a large crowd of people and accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, Their Majesties laid a wreath at the war memorial and stood for a long time in silent prayer.

    Narration: At the banquet held during the visit, His Majesty stated, “It grieves our hearts to think that so many people were victimized in various ways during that war and that there are still those who continue to bear unhealed scars from the war.”

    Narration: Here, too, the consideration shown by their long-time friend Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and Their Majesties’ warmth and sincerity helped to gradually soothe the feelings of the people of the Netherlands, as had been the case in the United Kingdom.

    Narration: On all their overseas visits Their Majesties made it a point to interact with the local people.

    Narration: In every country Their Majesties have always visited welfare facilities, where they reached out to the elderly, the children, and the people with disabilities.

    Narration: His Majesty has always believed that the foundation of international goodwill goes beyond relations at the government level and lies fundamentally with the mutual understanding between peoples.

  • Norway
    May 2005

  • Narration: In 2005, the welcome ceremony for Their Majesties’ arrival in Norway was struck by an unseasonal severe hailstorm.

    Narration: His Majesty remained calm throughout the ceremony, oblivious to the hailstorm.

    Narration: Her Majesty showed her concern for the young Crown Princess of Norway, who was pregnant at the time.
    Their Majesties’ actions were reported locally with both respect and esteem.

  • United States
    June 1994

  • Narration: On the occasion of Their overseas visits, Their Majesties have met with members of the Nikkei communities, who left their homeland to live in a foreign land, and also Japanese nationals who are working in those places.

  • Brazil
    June 1997

  • Narration: Their Majesties have a special place in their hearts for the Nikkei people, many of whom experienced long years of hardships after emigrating. They pray for their happiness in their respective countries.

  • 11.Away from Official Duties

  • Hayama Imperial Villa, Kanagawa Prefecture
    January 2019

  • Narration: Early spring at the Hayama Imperial Villa.
    As an annual tradition, Their Majesties always look forward to chatting with the local residents during Their stroll.

  • Nasu Heisei-no-mori forest, Tochigi Prefecture
    July 2013

  • Narration: Here, Their Majesties talk with people who visit the Nasu Heisei-no-mori forest.

    Narration: This forest was created by transferring part of the Nasu Imperial Villa grounds 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 Majesty’s accession to the throne. It is now a park that is open to the public.

  • Farm visit, Tochigi Prefecture
    July 2016

  • Narration: Even when not engaging in official duties, His Majesty treasures opportunities to meet people and each year during their stay at Nasu Imperial Villa during the summer, Their Majesties would visit local farms.

  • Farm visit, Tochigi Prefecture
    July 2017

  • Narration: They viewed the flowers and vegetables that are being cultivated and asked about the crops and how the farm was doing.

  • Farm visit, Aomori Prefecture
    September 2014
    Farm visit, Yamagata Prefecture
    June 2015

  • Narration: Even on their private visits that began from 2013, Their Majesties have visited producers of local specialty produce.

  • Crown Prince’s Residence
    December 1982

  • Narration: From a young age His Majesty has found time in his busy schedule of official duties to continue his taxonomic research on gobioid fishes. To date His Majesty has discovered 10 new species of gobioid fishes and has published 36 research papers, including papers on topics other than fish.

    Narration: In May 2021, His Majesty published a paper on the discovery of two new species of gobioid fishes, named Callogobius albipunctatus and Callogobius dorsomaculatus.

  • Royal Society, United Kingdom
    May 1998

  • Narration: In 1998, in recognition of his accomplishments as a researcher, His Majesty became the first recipient of the King Charles the Second Medal, awarded by the Royal Society of London to those Heads of State who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of science.

  • Linnean Society, United Kingdom
    May 2007

  • Narration: In 2007, as a foreign member of the world-renowned Linnean Society of London, a global academic society for biological science, His Majesty gave a keynote speech in English at the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl von Linné.

  • Strolling in the East G\ardens of the Imperial Palace
    September 2013

  • Narration: Every Sunday Their Majesties made it a custom to go for a stroll in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace grounds.

    Narration: It was His Majesty’s idea to attach name plates to the trees in the East Gardens, so that visitors can have a more enjoyable experience.

  • Orchard of old varieties of fruit trees

  • Narration: Also in the East Gardens, which is the former site of the Edo Castle, His Majesty had fruit trees planted of varieties that existed back in the Edo period.

    Narration: In between his busy schedule of official duties, His Majesty would also occasionally find time to enjoy a game of tennis with staff members on the tennis court on the Imperial Palace grounds.

    Narration: At the Imperial Residence, His Majesty would also play the cello, accompanied by Her Majesty on the piano.

    Narration: After His Majesty’s abdication, Their Majesties moved from the Imperial Palace to the Sento Temporary Palace in Takanawa, Minato City, in March, 2020.

    Narration: Although he has concluded His duties as Emperor, His Majesty, together with Her Majesty, continues to be concerned for the difficult path endured by the people of Japan due to the novel coronavirus and various natural disasters, and prays sincerely for the peace and happiness of the people.

    Narration: His Majesty lived through the Heisei era, always alongside the people of Japan, while also in pursuit of the ideal way of the Emperor as a Symbol. Now that He has concluded the journey of Heisei, His Majesty, together with Her Majesty, enjoy Their morning and evening strolls together as part of Their daily routine, always looking after each other, enjoying well-deserved, quiet and peaceful days.

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