Last year marked its start with the happy and youthful celebration of the Nagano Winter Olympics. I believe that the hearts of a great many Japanese people still retain the memory of the remarkable performances of our athletes. However, due to developments in the economic situation and the occurrence of natural disasters, the people suffered an increase of severe difficulties in their daily lives, and this thought deeply preoccupies my heart.
Throughout the world also, natural disasters on a very large scale and the severe economic situation brought sufferings including deaths upon so many people. Under such conditions, I feel it is becoming more and more important to further cooperation, transcending national boundaries, in various fields such as world economy and the global environment. It is my hope that the various peoples of the world will value highly the mutual links that bind then, and cooperate with one another. At the same time, I hope that our people will support one another in hard times and work together with the aim of making a better future of all.
It is my ardent wish that this new year will be a happy one, both for the people of Japan and all the people of the world.