Press Conference on the occasion of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince's Birthday (2002)

Press Conference by His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince on the Occasion of His Birthday

Press Conference by His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince on the Occasion of His Birthday(2002)

Date:June 20, 2002

At the Residence

Question 1
As you look back over the last year, please tell us of any events that have left a lasting impression on you
Answer 1

Looking back over the past year, in Japan, with the rising unemployment rate and other factors, I think that it has indeed been a difficult year for the people of our nation. The discovery that some cattle had been infected with Mad Cow Disease was a shock to many people and I am sure that these have indeed been especially hard times for dairy farmers and livestock farmers. There have also been various tragic accidents and incidents including the collision between a training vessel of Uwajima Fisheries High School and an American nuclear submarine in the waters around Hawaii, and the tragic incident that occurred at Ikeda Elementary School in Osaka. Furthermore, I am concerned that those who had to take refuge as a result of the volcanic eruptions on Miyakejima are still unable to return to their homes after such a long time. I can only hope that the Japanese economy will recover as soon as possible so that the lives of the people will improve, as I strongly hope that our society will be one in which people can live in safety.

Turning to developments abroad, the world was greatly shocked by the series of terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States on September 11th and it was indeed unfortunate that so many precious lives were lost. Although this was followed by air bombing in Afghanistan, currently under the Afghanistan Interim Authority, efforts are being made to rebuild that nation with the assistance and cooperation of foreign nations. I strongly hope that peace will come to Afghanistan as soon as possible. The situation in the Middle East concerning Israel and Palestine is also increasingly chaotic and I am concerned for the future of that region.

This was also the year when the Euro began to circulate as the single currency in Europe. Just before I visited the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Euro replaced the Guilder, which had been the traditional currency of the Netherlands. Many years ago, when I was studying in the United Kingdom, I had the opportunity to visit various countries of Europe. During those visits, I felt that, crossing from one country to another, each country had different natural features and cultures, even though they were neighbors. In other words, I realized that each country has its own distinct individuality. When I considered that nations with such distinct personalities were now joined together through a single currency, the Euro, I felt as if I had glanced a view of the Europe of today.

At the same time, there was also joyous news coming from the impressive achievements of Ichiro and other Japanese baseball athletes playing in the Major Leagues, as well as the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry to Japanese Professor Ryoji Noyori, following the award of that prize to Professor Hideki Shirakawa the year before last. Moreover, the ongoing achievements of the athletes at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City have left a strong impression upon me. Finally, last year a child was born to us and our family welcomed a new member.

Question 2
On the occasion of the birth of Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko, please tell us once again of your joy at the birth, and the new discoveries in your daily life and moving moments. Also, what were your thoughts on selecting the Chinese characters and their readings for Toshi-no-miya Aiko? By what name does Your Highness usually refer to the little Princess?
Answer 2

I am deeply grateful for the safe birth of our child last year on December 1st. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and to so many other people who have warmly watched over us. In addition, I am thankful that so many people celebrated with us. The birth of a new life is indeed something mystic and entails great emotions. I was so truly filled with appreciation for Crown Princess Masako as to tell her, "Well done, my dear." Honestly speaking, until I saw my child I did not really sense what it meant to be a father and I think that it was not until I saw the healthy newborn baby that I first felt that I really was a father. In addition, I now strongly feel my responsibility to raise my child with great care and protect her.

By the way, if we turn our eyes to the world around us, we see that throughout the world new lives are lost to and endangered by conflict and hunger. In Japan as well, child abuse has become a significant issue. As the father of a child born with the felicitations of so many people, I do hope that we can provide a peaceful environment for little children and that we can achieve a peaceful world in which children are watched over with warmth.

Fortunately, our baby is healthy and doing fine and recently has shown a full range of facial expressions and is making sounds and laughing more and more often. It seems that she has grown all around, and it is joyful for me to watch her growth in these ways. I have once again realized just how adorable babies are.

In selecting a name for our child, we received several candidates from experts in the study of Chinese characters and Japanese classic literature. Since children do not choose their own names, and since a name accompanies its bearer for life, my wife and I carefully selected from among those candidates. In making the selection, bearing in mind the traditions of the Imperial Family, we sought characters whose meanings and pronunciations had a good sound to them and a name that would be easy to be familiar with. I am deeply grateful to Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress who left the real decision to us saying that we should think it over. Among the candidates, it seemed that the words of Mencius were especially good in terms of their content. In addition, we thought it good that the two Chinese characters meaning "respect" (toshi) and "love" (ai) were used. As has always been the case, and even more so in the world of today where relations between people tend to be weak, I think that it is most important to respect people and to love people. And so, in choosing a name for our child, we wanted that name to encompass our desire for our child to grow up to be "a person who respects others and will be respected by others, and a person who loves others and will be loved by others," in line with Mencius' words.

Regarding the pronunciation of the characters, as it is practice to avoid duplication in the characters and their pronunciation with the names of past Emperors and Empresses, as well as with the names of past and present members of the Imperial Family, we consulted the experts who proposed candidates to us based on our ideas.

Ordinarily, I refer to the Princess using several variations based on her name, Aiko

Question 3
What discussions have you had with Her Imperial Highness the Crown Princess concerning the upbringing and education of Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko? Please tell us your thoughts on how you intend to convey to the people of Japan news about the growth of Princess Aiko.
Answer 3

Since it has been less than three months since she was born, Masako and I intend to talk over various things regarding our plans for raising her and for her education. As we are novices in everything as father and mother, we may seek the counsel of many people and I believe that there is much that we will learn from our child. Still, I think that what is of foremost importance is that we, as parents, shower our child with as much love as we can. Further, as the father, I intend to be actively involved in bringing up our child. Fortunately, she is a very healthy baby, and in the future I intend to find good opportunities to keep our nation well-informed of the progress of her development.

Question 4
How did you feel upon hearing that over the course of two days, as many as 120,000 people came to sign their names in registers for congratulatory visits following the birth of Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko? The people of Japan have limited opportunities to get to know the personalities of Your Highnesses. How would you like to respond to the people's felicitations through your official duties and activities in the future?
Answer 4

I am deeply grateful for the warm welcome afforded Princess Aiko by so many people. Honestly speaking, I was quite surprised to see that so many people came to sign the visitors' registers, and as a parent I am very touched that so many people have expressed their felicitations at the birth of Princess Aiko. In return for the joyous congratulations expressed by so many people, I strongly sense my responsibility to do my best in raising our child. We intend to continue to carry out our official duties bearing in mind our desire for the Imperial Family to be together with the people of Japan, and as I have said previously, I intend to ascertain what the people of Japan hope for and expect from the Imperial Family. Further, now that we have become parents, I would like to deepen our understanding of various issues related to children.

Question 5
In a contribution to a monthly magazine, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamatsu stated that an amendment to the Imperial House Law that would allow for female succession to the throne would "not be unnatural." In addition, Her Imperial Highness wrote that she would "be willing to compose as many as two or three more poems of joy during my lifetime," and while speaking of her hopes for the birth of a boy thus, "I am sure that Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess Masako will fulfill my hopes again," she had also noted that undue expectations should not place a psychological burden on the Crown Princess. What were Your Highness' thoughts on reading this collection of writings?
Answer 5

I was deeply moved to read the article by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamatsu. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Her Imperial Highness for being so thoughtful. I will refrain from commenting on the issue of a revision to the Imperial Household Law.

Related Question 1
In responding just now, Your Imperial Highness stated that you thought that you would learn many things from Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko. You stated that you were surprised that so many people signed the visitors' registers and you said that you intend to ascertain what the people of Japan hope for and expect from the Imperial Family. In that context, in light of the great number of felicitations that have been expressed, do you sense anything new that is hoped for and expected of the Imperial Family after this birth? Please tell us if there is anything like this.
Answer 1

As I just said, I was truly surprised by the number of people who came to sign the visitors' registers, and as I said earlier, this truly gave me a strong sense of my responsibility to lovingly raise our child. I hope that by raising my child in this way, I might be able to meet the expectations of the people.

Related Question 2
Will there be any changes to your official duties?
Answer 2

Until now I have carried out various official duties and I believe that in the future new official duties may arise. Now that I have become a father, I do hope to endeavor to deepen my understanding of situations surrounding children and I feel that perhaps in the future there will be more official duties that have to do with children. I hope to play an active role in the event that such duties arise.

unofficial translation