Press Conference on the occasion of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince's Birthday (2005)

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(2005)

Date:February 21, 2005

At the Residence

Question 1
Since December 2003, Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess has been spending a period of recuperation. Since the beginning of this year, however, Her Imperial Highness has attended some events including appearing for one of the New Year Greetings at the Imperial Palace, and she seems to be in better spirits than before and to be on the road to recovery. Could Your Imperial Highness tell us of Her Imperial Highness'current condition and the path she will follow towards the resumption of her official duties? Her doctors diagnosed "adjustment disorder" brought about by various hardships related to her position as Crown Princess. Since that diagnosis, have there been any changes in the burdensome environment of Her Imperial Highness?
Answer 1

Princess Masako's illness has been a cause of concern for the people of Japan and I am truly grateful for the encouragement we have received from so many people. I am also most grateful to Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress for extending their concern and sympathy to her. Princess Masako seems to be now moving towards recovery from her illness and she is demonstrating a positive and forward-looking spirit. In addition, she is making active efforts to increase her energy resources little by little, including going out on private visits. I think that undertaking activities such as horse riding and skiing have had a positive effect upon her during her period of recuperation.

However, her condition has its ups and downs as before, and her doctors recognize that since she has hardly been outside for more than A year, it will take more time before she makes a full physical recovery. Last year, Princess Masako's grandmother Mrs. Suzuko Egashira passed away, and for a time Princess Masako's vitality left her, as she had many cherished memories of her grandmother from childhood.

With regard to Princess Masako's resuming her official duties, while consulting fully with doctors on her condition, I would like to gradually see the scope of her activities broadened. Now is not the time to decide on a set direction concerning the content of such official duties, but it is something that will be decided later, taking into consideration Princess Masako's physical condition. The doctors seem to think that Princess Masako has a tendency to attempt too much and try too hard, and they would like her "first and foremost to ease herself back into her official duties slowly."

With regard to our personal environment, I recognize that that various ways and means are being devised to make improvements, such as having closer communication within the Crown Prince's Household than ever before, and making a distinction as much as possible between public and private in daily life. In addition, with the cooperation of a number of people, including the Imperial Household Agency Press Club, I think matters are moving in a favorable direction in that Princess Masako has been able to make private visits more freely than was previously possible. I would also like to express my appreciation for the efforts of the doctors. Princess Masako is also very thankful for the cooperation she has received from so many people. However, this sort of environment is not something that can be changed significantly in a short period of time, and I hope that it will continue to evolve slowly, into an even better form over time, with the continued cooperation of the various people concerned.

Question 2
His Majesty The Emperor has expressed surprise and also stated that there are some areas he does not fully understand with regard to Your Imperial Highness' comments at the time of your press conference prior to your visit to Europe in May 2004. Also, His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino expressed his regret in regard to the importance of smooth communication with His Majesty The Emperor. What do you think of such comments? This issue has caused concern among the people of Japan and some have pointed to a "family problem" and there have also been calls for a rethinking of the modalities for the Imperial Household Agency. Please tell us of your feelings again, regarding your comments of last May and related happenings that have occurred since then.
Answer 2

I made my remarks last year with the intention of informing the people of the condition of Princess Masako. However, I deeply regret that as a result of those remarks I disturbed Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress. I am also sorry for the concern I caused amongst the people of Japan.

From now on I intend to carry out my duties as Crown Prince fully embracing the encouragements and warm assistance that Their Majesties have been offering us, with the help of The Imperial Household Agency and thinking out things by myself. Each person's perspective is different, and as is the case in any family, there is a difference in the way of thinking of people of different generations. However, I believe that by continuing to discuss such things people can gain a deeper understanding of each other. I believe that I will be speaking about my official duties a little later on but I can say that as far as wishing for the happiness of the people and considering what can be done for the people and striving to implement that, the views of His Majesty, Prince Akishino and my views are all the same. Moreover, I would like to inform you that as I prepared for this press conference His Majesty told me that I should honestly express my own views.

As for myself, I intend to do whatever I can to support Princess Masako so that she can quickly recover her health and resume her official duties.

Question 3
An Advisory Council on the Imperial House Law has been established within the Government to consider measures to maintain a stable line of Imperial succession. The succession of female members of the Imperial Family has been the focus of discussion. Based on these recent developments, please tell us of your intents for the future raising of Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko and your thoughts on the so-called "succession issue."
Answer 3

I am aware of the establishment of the Advisory Council on the Imperial House Law, but I wish to refrain from making any comment, including anything on the "succession issue."

Concerning our plans for raising Princess Aiko, whatever position the future holds for her, my primary wish is for her to be soundly raised as an individual person. I think that the age of three is an important time that has a bearing on the future process of growth for a child. As her name itself suggests, I would like to see her grow, loving others and being loved by others. It is therefore important for us to raise Princess Aiko with love and affection. Recently I came across a poem. It is entitled " Children Learn What They Live" by the American educationalist Dorothy Law Nolte, and is included in the social studies textbook in junior high schools in the Kingdom of Sweden:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

(original English version)

Having a child of my own, I feel most keenly that this poem describes in a wonderfully eloquent way the very important factors in a child's growth process that are yet so easy to forget in today's society, such as the importance of bonds between people, the importance of love for other people and compassion for other people. I was profoundly touched by this poem. I think it would be wonderful for a child to learn such things naturally while growing up in a family, which is the smallest unit of a community.

In addition, I would like to see that Princess Aiko has a variety of experiences. I still believe today that it was good that during my own childhood I was taken to various places by my own parents, now Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress, and I was able to see the things that Their Majesties did. In that sense, although I do not mean to imply that Princess Aiko will begin official duties, I think it is important for her to see us and what we are doing.

As Princess Aiko has turned three years old, I think it is important for her to gain an understanding of socialization in a variety of senses. She is now talking very freely, and I think it is important for her to continue to use greetings and phrases that are in daily use, and which she has already been using, including those used at mealtimes, and also to say " thank you" when something has been done for her. Happily, Princess Aiko has friends of different ages, and thanks to the guidance of the Rythmique teachers, she is gradually learning about simple rules of daily life, such as how to get in line and wait one's turn.

Over the period from the end of last year to the New Year, we engaged in many activities, such as pounding MOCHI, flying kites, spinning tops, playing HANETSUKI and cards, and also calligraphy practice, with Princess Aiko writing side by side Princess Masako, doing her first calligraphy of the New Year. We did all these things out of a desire for Princess Aiko to come into contact with customs and culture that have been passed down through the ages in Japan. When I was a child I enjoyed playing the card game of the one hundred famous poems with Their Majesties and Princess Masako's parents also played the same game with her, so that during her long period of living overseas she would not forget about Japanese culture. Through nursery rhymes that use a seven/five syllable structure I would like to see Princess Aiko come to understand the rhythm of these poems naturally and be able to play with words using simple seven/five syllable structures. In addition, I feel sad that this kind of valuable Japanese customs are gradually being lost and I sincerely hope that They will continue to be treasured by children for a long time to come.

Question 4
Your Imperial Highness previously stated that, in consultation with the Imperial Household Agency, you would like to seek out, together with Her Imperial Highness, new official duties in step with the present era. Both His Majesty The Emperor and His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino have commented on these new official duties as well. Given these comments, please tell us of your thoughts for a specific form and direction you and Her Imperial Highness have in mind for such new official duties.
Answer 4

Concerning my official duties, I have said already that I would like to cherish the traditions of the Imperial Family, and, while assisting His Majesty The Emperor, to hope for the happiness of the people of Japan, reach out to those in difficulty and try to share the joys and sorrows of the people. In addition, with great changes taking place around us, I have also stated that it is for the Imperial Family to accurately gauge what is required of the Imperial Family in a certain era and the content of official duties in step with the era. In stating this, rather than referring to what I want to do as an individual, I have been referring to the search for what I can do for the country and for the people in the rapidly changing world of today in which we find ourselves. As His Majesty The Emperor has also stated, that is something I believe that we will be able to discover as we carry out our official duties.

In addition, and I have already mentioned this in the past, Their Majesties involved themselves in the National Sports Games for the Disabled from the first time the Games were held while they were still Crown Prince and Princess, and this movement has blossomed into one that now includes the intellectually disadvantaged, to become a sports event for all disabled people. There are other examples I could give, including Their Majesties attendance at National Tree-caring Festivals which are held after National Arbor Day festivities, to watch over the growth of the trees, and Their Majesties' meetings with Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. These are all activities that Their Majesties initiated as new official duties when they were Crown Prince and Princess and have nurtured along the way.

There have been various discussions over the past year about the ideal form for my official duties to take, and various people have provided me the benefit of their considerations, including the councilors for the Imperial Household Agency. I too have thought carefully, taking these considerations as reference, and my basic thoughts, as I have just explained, remain unchanged. If in the future new requests will be made concerning matters that are of increasing importance due to changes at home and abroad, I would like to positively consider such requests.

One of such areas that I am considering myself for now is that of environmental issues.

From my experience serving as the Honorary President of the Third World Water Forum held two years ago in Kyoto, I felt that issues surrounding water will become of increasing importance among environmental issues. Also, I am involved in my capacity as Honorary President in the 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan, which will be held from March this year in Aichi Prefecture, and I believe that this Exposition will be a precious forum from which to consider environmental issues.

Another matter is that of children and the elderly, and in a situation where birth rates are falling and the population is rapidly aging in Japan and other developed countries, I believe that issues of welfare for children and elderly people, as well as the issue of children's education will become increasingly important. Also, international cultural exchange, and the promotion of friendship and goodwill among nations will become of ever greater importance. For example, based on such thoughts, I accepted the Honorary Presidency of "Germany in Japan 2005/2006," that is going to be held this year.

In addition, there are also various new developments in industry and technology in Japan, and I think that these are also worthy of attention as something that is likely to have a significant impact on people's lives in the future.

As for the way to proceed with my official duties from here on, I intend to endeavor to ensure that by creating more opportunities to receive explanations and reports before and after official ceremonies, and by making opportunities to meet with persons involved in various fields more frequent and fruitful, I will make my official duties as meaningful as possible. In addition, as well as talking to various experts from a wide range of areas on a number of occasions, I would like to deepen exchange as much as possible with young people, and also to impart my own experiences to the younger generation. As one example of this, recently I gave a talk at the Gakushuin Women's College about the time I spent studying overseas, and I was impressed by how attentively the students listened to my words and the well-directed questions they asked me. Although limited in number and opportunity, the young people I meet have various values and views and have a great deal of inherent potential. I hope that I can be useful in some way in order to build a society in which these young people can go through life positively and full of hope. At the same time, there are many painful issues such as the decreasing age of juvenile crime and family issues, and I sincerely hope that love and compassion for fellow human beings can find a place in the hearts of a greater number of young people.

As I have already mentioned, Princess Masako is now on the road to recovery, but her doctors think she should not engage fully yet in her official duties, although they believe that she will be able to gradually resume her official duties. Princess Masako has already started some official duties, but her condition persists, including her tendency to tire easily, and given the necessity to place a priority on her physical recovery, I think it would be advisable for her to gradually start with official duties that are judged to place less of a burden on her, on a case-by-case basis.

When Princess Masako is suitably recovered, I hope that some themes of official duties will be found which she can pursue building on her experiences to date, and would like to consider this matter based on thorough consultation with the Imperial Household Agency. Of course, of the official duties I have spoken of there are those which we could fulfill together.

In addition, once Princess Masako has reached a stage in which she is able to make a full return to official duties, then for those ones that would be more appropriate for either me or her to concentrate on, I would like to start considering even more than before to have those official duties be carried out by either one of us alone.

Question 5
Please tell us your impressions and thoughts about the events that touched your heart in this past year. Please include your recollections of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamatsu, who passed away, your thoughts as an elder brother about Her Imperial Highness Princess Sayako, who is soon to be married, and also about the recent growth of Her Imperial Highness Princess Aiko, who has reached her third birthday.
Answer 5

Various events took place over the past ear both at home and overseas, and the first thing that comes to mind concerning domestic events was the frequency of natural disasters. Last year, the largest ever number of typhoons in recorded history - a total of ten - made landfall in Japan and caused a great deal of damage. Then in October many precious lives were lost in the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake and thousands of people were injured and lost their homes and property. In addition, I am most concerned to hear that the hardships being faced by the victims of the earthquake have been amplified still further by heavy winter snowfalls. There was also some good news in the fact that the residents of Miyakejima were finally able to return to their island. I sincerely hope that the reconstruction of all these disaster areas progresses as quickly as possible.

In addition, it was truly wonderful that the families of the abduction victims were able to return to Japan, and that they are now able to live together once again after such a long time.

What was also truly thrilling was the achievements of Japanese people in the field of sports. In particular, the news that Japanese athletes were achieving marvelous results overseas such as the achievements of the Japanese athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Athens, and the new record for the number of hits in one season set by Ichiro Suzuki in major league baseball in the United States was truly gladdening, and these events invigorated Japan as a nation.

Looking at events worldwide, the devastation wrought by the tsunami following the earthquake off the island of Sumatra was truly heart-rending. We are watching this disaster unfold with great concern and it is very important that in order to rescue the victims and promote reconstruction, all countries of the world, including Japan, as well as international organizations should all cooperate and contribute to the greatest extent possible. In addition, I pray for the peaceful repose of the nearly 30 Japanese victims of the disaster.

It is truly regrettable that over the course of the past year, so many people in many countries have been sacrificed to tragic acts of violence.

On a lighter note, last year saw the weddings of Crown Princes from both Europe and Asia, and I am happy that I was able to take part in the wedding ceremonies and offer my congratulations in three countries.

Also, in May last year, the European Union (EU) welcomed 10 new members from Central and Eastern Europe, bringing total membership to 25 nations. The newly expanded EU will be watched for the direction it will take from here.

After many twists and turns, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change finally came into force on February 16. Although it will be no easy task to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, I believe it is necessary for every country, party to the Protaol, including Japan, to make its best efforts to reduce the emissions in accordance with the Protocol in order to leave a world for our children that is a good place in which to live.

I was most saddened at the passing of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamatsu in December last year. From my childhood, Princess Takamatsu was always most kind and after our marriage she would often invite us to her residence, where we would talk about various things, including the old days. She once told us with relish of a story of how shortly after her marriage she visited the United States at the time of Prohibition, where, DURING a banquet she asked President Hoover, "what would you say if I told you that at a luncheon the other day I was served wine?" and President Hoover's laughter in response was reported in the newspapers, because the President was someone who never usually laughed. I shall also never forget how she also told us with the look of a mischievous child, "immediately after that incident I received a rebuke from the Imperial Household Ministry, now the Imperial Household Agency, telling me to 'take caution in what you say.'" Princess Takamatsu was also concerned about Princess Masako's health and she wrote a "waka" poem in celebration of the birth of Princess Aiko. I am most grateful for all her kindnesses.

I am delighted that it has been decided that my sister Princess Sayako is to be married. It seems like only yesterday that she was still a child, and I hope that the couple will enjoy long happiness together. I am also most appreciative for all Princess Sayako has done as a Princess, as a member of the Imperial Family and as a sister.

Princess Aiko is growing in good health. I am delighted that her growth can be detected in her body movements, in the number of words she uses and in her reactions. We went for her first ski trip to Shiga Kogen, and she has now become accustomed to snow. She is particularly fond of building blocks, puzzles, origami and drawing pictures in her everyday activities. In addition, she sings various songs, including Japanese nursery rhymes, has an interest in people's names and remembers the full names of staff members, demonstrating an interest in various things. In addition, she runs around the garden, loves animals, and we are looking forward to teaching her more about nature, by encouraging her to climb trees and other things.

Related Question
Your Imperial Highness mentioned in your first response that you are endeavoring to realize closer communication than ever with the staff of the Crown Prince's Household, and in your fourth response you mentioned that you had taken seriously various considerations from other sources including the Councilors concerning your new official duties. To the extent that you are able, could Your Imperial Highness tell us a little more specifically about how much closer your communication with staff members of the Crown Prince's Household could be?

As my previous response indicated, I am making efforts to create more opportunities to meet people and discuss things with them, when I carry out my official work. On other occasions as well, I have been trying to increase opportunities to meet with people face to face in order to facilitate communication, which I believe is very important. I also meet regularly with the Councilors and ask their opinions, and I would like to keep in mind such opinions for future reference. I think that is what I wanted to say. I believe that it is most important for us to exchange opinions effectively and this is what I intend to do.

unofficial translation