June 9, 2003
As I look back over these ten years, I feel in some ways that they passed very quickly, and in other ways they seemed long. As I have stated in the past, they have been ten years during which "I was able to look at myself (through marriage), and grow as a person as well." Although not to the same extent as Masako, my life also changed after I got married. During this time, I recall that there were times when I was unsure as what would be the best thing to do. But we traveled through life as a couple, doing various things together and sharing both happy times and sad times. I also feel that in the things that we have done and shared together as a couple, there has been happiness. We also have always endeavored to trust each other and respect each other's personality.
In light of our past experience, I am now looking forward with renewed spirit to the next ten years. I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to all the people who have so warmly watched over us over these past ten years.
When I look back upon the past ten years, I am filled with truly profound feelings. I am grateful and overjoyed when I think of the day of our marriage on June 9 ten years ago, when we received such tremendous felicitations from so many people. I recall that before the day of the wedding, I had made various preparations, and these preparations are a somewhat distant memory in some ways. But at the same time I feel it hard to believe that for ten years I have been here in this role.
Over the course of ten years, I have shared many joys and much happiness with His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince. All people face difficulties under various circumstances and such difficulties must be surmounted. As for myself, having entered a completely new world from the one I had known before, I have sometimes encountered difficulties that I had never even imagined. At such times, His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince was always at my side to provide counsel, and to encourage and support me, and for this I am most profoundly grateful.
His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince has also taught me many things, like contact with nature through our mountaineering and hiking, and a love of music. In addition, living with our two dogs Pippi and Mari (who will be eight years old this summer) has always calmed and rejuvenated my spirit.
I am particularly happy and thankful that our daughter Aiko, who is almost exactly one and a half years old, has continued to grow cheerfully and in good health. I am truly thankful for the warm felicitations of the people of Japan at the time of her birth in December 2001 and her growth since then, and I want to keep such warm feelings from the people close to my heart.
On this 10th anniversary day, I wish to express my sincere thanks to all those people who assisted me over the course of ten years.
I am deeply grateful that at the end of the year before last, we were blessed with the birth of our child. I am happy to say that Aiko is growing satisfactorily and we look forward to her daily growth. From now on too, both of us will do our best in raising her and would like to build a happy home. In a child's early infancy, there is nothing more important than to be given sufficient love and attention. In that context, and although I am repeating something I have said before, for the time being I intend to place importance on Aiko's upbringing. Concerning the question about a second child, I sincerely wish to avoid the kind of internal and external pressure that we experienced prior to the birth of our first child and I ask for your cooperation in this regard.
Concerning the image for the Imperial Family in the future, although I am repeating what I have said previously, I hope to respond properly to the needs of the times, and act appropriately as a member of the young generation of the Imperial Family. As a member of the Imperial Family, I take my official duties very seriously. Through official duties, I want to learn about various things and to come into contact with the people of Japan. We have said, "we would like to undertake activities which befit the Imperial Family in the 21st century." This means that considering that this is an era in which significant and fast changes are occurring, it is important to ascertain what is important for us to do as official duties. Bearing such considerations in mind, I would like to consider once again our official duties, including those we have undertaken to date. I would also like to place high importance on contact with young people, as it is they who bear the future for Japan and the rest of the world.
Overseas goodwill visits are also an important part of the activities of the Imperial Family and in the future I would like to visit foreign countries when the opportunity arises and play a useful role through such goodwill visits.
These are very difficult questions to answer. We have seen great and rapid changes occurring in the world today. If I compare the time when I joined the Imperial Family to today, I am surprised by the extent to which the world has changed, an example being the spread of the Internet.
In such an environment, the question of what image would be ideal for our generation of the Imperial Family is one that needs to be considered from various angles. While praying for the happiness of all people, I am making efforts to personally grasp an image of what will be important in the future for the people of Japan and the people of the world. By so doing, I believe that we should consider dealing with various affairs of the world from a broad perspective. While fully consulting with His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince, I will continue to make efforts in this regard and hope that I can be of some small assistance to His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince.
At home, I feel great happiness that our daughter Aiko is such a source of joy for us every day. At the same time, in a society that is changing rapidly, I also feel great responsibility as a parent raising a child in the Imperial Family. It brings me the greatest happiness to raise our child with love and to keep our home restful and warm for His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince and our daughter. At the same time, I would like to endeavor to see to it that our child is raised with as much knowledge of the world as possible.
In addition, at this current point, while I of course take my official duties very seriously, as a parent, I want to place importance on watching over and supporting my daughter's development, since I hear that for children, their first few years of life are the most important of all.
The things I would like to say are thank you for your endeavors in many ways over the last ten years, you've made fine efforts and for that I am so grateful to you. Although I couldn't give a specific score, as you will understand from what I have just said, I think Masako has earned dual prizes, an "effort prize" and a "gratitude prize," instead of a "gratitude letter."
Concerning efforts we have made as a couple, I would say that those have been to talk thoroughly to one another and to make an effort to put ourselves in each other's shoes in thinking about various matters. There are also times when we are busy in our official duties, but at meal times and on other occasions that we have been able to find, we have exchanged opinions on even the smallest of matters that we have noticed. One of the things that I think was particularly difficult for Masako was always being in the public eye and the focus of public attention. In my case, I have been a member of the Imperial Family ever since my birth. So I gradually become accustomed to the role over time. In Masako's case, all that began with our marriage (or perhaps just before then). I therefore value highly her efforts to put up with people's attention. I have always intended to make efforts to provide advice, recalling the process when from a young age I had doubts about living life in the public eye and then gradually became accustomed to such a life. (I am unsure however as to what extent I have been able to provide such assistance). Also, the pressure concerning pregnancy was very great. I think that those times were truly difficult for Masako, and I am grateful that we were able to surmount such troubles together.
What is the "secret of happy married life?" In addition to what I have already mentioned, concerning talking to each other and putting oneself in the other person's shoes, I think another thing is to frankly admit it when you think you have been mistaken.
Concerning methods of child-raising, I would like to participate as much as possible in the raising of our child and will continue to do this in the future. I think that we will naturally come to understand our roles as father and mother and I would like to place importance on communication with mother and child from my position as father.
What I am grateful for first of all is that Masako is here beside me. I am delighted by her very presence. I am also happy that she has a sense of humor. Concerning matters that I have learned from her, I would say that there have been many instances in which I have learned from her experiences. Such experiences include those of living overseas and of working as a diplomat, and also the experience of being a returnee to Japan. I have been able to learn a great deal from Masako's views and concepts cultivated through such experiences, thus widening my own horizons. I am also happy that regarding pastimes such as music and mountaineering, the scope of my interest in these has increased since the time of our marriage. One could say that the things I have learned are the things I would like to be thankful for. If I were to add one more thing, I would mention that the first thing I learned when we were married was to read documents carefully. In those days, in repeated official duties, I tended to neglect looking at documents a great deal. But thanks to Masako's attitude in such matters, I reformed myself, reading documents more thoroughly and noticing things. In this way I was forced to reflect on my own carelessness.
The thing I would like to request is for Masako not to try too hard. She is dedicated and serious in her efforts, and I would like to assist her to the extent that I am able to alleviate some of the pressure. In particular, simultaneously undertaking official duties and raising a child is most difficult, and I think some adjustments may be necessary in that area. I sincerely hope that Masako will take good care of herself.
What His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince has just said has filled me with deep emotion, and at the same time I would like to crawl into a hole if there were one available. (What His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince mentioned about "reading documents carefully," is something from the distant past.)
What I have to say to His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince is to thank him for everything. I am filled with gratitude.
I can never be thankful enough for the loving consideration and support that His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince has shown at all times over ten years. In so many ways and at all times, I have learned many things from His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince, who never loses his self-possession, remaining dignified while never forgetting his sense of humor. This has been an immense source of comfort in my daily life.
In addition, since the birth of our daughter, His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince has shown himself to be a wonderful father and Aiko shows great affection for her father. I feel very happy about this, and also very assured. As it has been up to now, I am sure that should I experience any difficulties or worries in raising our child in the Imperial Family, His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince, who was raised in the Imperial Family, will be an exemplary father and will provide a steady hand of guidance.
I am somewhat hesitant about giving His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince a score, but if there were something like "maximum points," I am sure that His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince would certainly score more than the maximum.
It is due to His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince's assistance that I have been able to safely pass these last ten years, and in the future I would like to make efforts to support His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince without being a hindrance, so that he can perform his duties wholeheartedly.
I think that it has been particularly difficult to compose responses to all of the questions, and I think I will be dreaming this evening about having failed a test...