Addresses by His Majesty the Emperor (2019)

Addresses by His Majesty the Emperor

Address by His Majesty the Emperor on the Occasion of the Commemoration Ceremony of the thirtieth Anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor's Accession to the Throne (February 24, 2019)

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of my reign, I would like to offer my deep gratitude to the government of Japan and to the people both in Japan and overseas for the congratulatory messages I received.

As I look back on the great number of events that have gone by since I ascended the throne thirty years ago, I am deeply moved to be able to mark this day today blessed by the many felicitations from people both in Japan and overseas.

During the three decades of the Heisei era, Japan has been free of war for the first time in modern current history, supported by the strong desire of the people for peace. However, the thirty years was by no means an uneventful time as our country encountered many unanticipated challenges. As the world entered a cycle of climate change, Japan, too, has been struck by innumerable natural disasters. Our country also faced a great deal of social phenomena never experienced before due to the demographic changes arising from the aging population and the declining birthrate. As an island nation under comparatively favorable circumstances, our country has been able to cultivate a distinctive culture. Today, in this globalizing world, however, I believe that Japan needs to open up to the world further, establish its own place in that world with wisdom, and build relations with other countries with sincerity and good will.

Ever since ascending the throne as Emperor and to this day, I have spent my days praying for peace in the country and for the happiness of the people and thinking about my role as the symbol of the State. However, this path of seeking the ideal role of the Emperor as the symbol of the State as designated by the Constitution of Japan, has been an endless one. It is my hope that those who will succeed me will continue to seek the ideal role of the symbol of the State in the next era and the era after that, and that they will continue to add and complement to the role of the Emperor as the symbol of the State.

I consider myself most fortunate to have always been able to perform my duties as the Emperor with the help of the people. The work that I have carried out was only made possible with the approval and support of various government organizations. I have been able to fulfill my duties thanks to the people of Japan, whose symbol of unity I take pride and joy in being, and the cultural level of this country which has been nurtured by the people of Japan over many years, from the past to the present.

Throughout the past three decades, our country has been fraught with many natural disasters, and the people who had the misfortune of living in those disaster-stricken communities encountered and had to endure much grief, which they have done so bravely. At the same time, across the nation, people have shared in the sorrow of those communities as if it were their own and stood by their fellow citizens in various ways. These are among my most unforgettable memories during my reign.

I would like to take this opportunity today to also express my gratitude to the people of other countries who showed great concern when Japan was in the midst of suffering and sorrow. Countless countries, international organizations and regions gave us their gracious and kind assistance. To those people I offer my deepest heartfelt gratitude.

Soon after the start of the Heisei era, the Empress composed a moving waka poem:

Tomodomo ni

Tairakeki yo o

Kizukan to

Morohito no kotoba

Kuniuchi ni mitsu.

“Together with you

We’ll forge a peaceful era”

So say the people

Ah, now the country is filled>

And blessed by these words.

The Heisei era began with a period of deep mourning for the demise of the late Emperor Showa. As such, the words in this poem were by no means loudly proclaimed. But to this day, we remember and hold precious the messages that we received from across the country at the time, filled with the quiet but firm determination to “build a peaceful Japan together with the Imperial family.”

I would like to express my deep gratitude to the people who organized this ceremony today to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of my accession to the throne. Finally, once again, I pray for peace and happiness of all the people in Japan and around the world.