Emperor Akihito thoughtfully looking back on fifty years of marriage

  April 11, 2009 at 12:13 pm by

View the image at BBC

View the image at Yuko

In a press conference on occasion of Emperor Akihito’s and Empress Michiko’s 50th wedding anniversary, the emperor said that while feeling true joy and being deeply appreciative of the congratulations of so many people, he could not help receiving them still “with a heavy heart” because of the severe economic situation in Japan and the world. He remembered that, at the time of his wedding, the country had been rising again after the devastations of World War II. But although the thriving of the Japanese industry meant for many Japanese at the time to be able to enjoy a better living standard, it also, on the other hand, brought about new problems as the emperor called to memory: environmental pollution and urbanization destroyed or, at least, limited the traditionally close contact of the Japanese people with nature.

Also concerning his private life, the emperor’s memory holds disagreeable and agreeable aspects alike: Having grown up without the experience of a ordinary family life, he is aware of having been, at times, unable to offer the empress the emotional support she would have needed. Moreover, as being used, from his earliest childhood, to a life under constant surveillance (that, from a commoner’s point of view, bears much resemblance to a glittering prison), he could only have a very faint idea of the sacrifice she made when she gave up for him the freedom of a commoner’s life. (For example, in 2007 the empress confessed that she sometimes dreamed of owning a ‘coat of invisibility’ so that she could “visit the secondhand bookshops of Kanda and Jimbocho where I often went when I was a student and spend a lot of time reading there”.)

Looking back, the emperor admitted: “I think I could not always be sufficiently considerate of the empress’ situation,” and he expressed his gratitude to his wife that she had borne “many sad times and many difficult times” with fortitude and had still managed to be “a great support” for him.

The emperor quoted a poem that he wrote when the couple was engaged (albeit unofficially):

As I continue
My talks with her,
I become aware
That, in my heart,
A window is opening.

He continued by adding: “I believe that I am what I am today as a result of many things I have absorbed since opening that window called marriage.”

Several events were scheduled to mark the couple’s golden wedding anniversary, including the evening party, a private family dinner and visits with government officials. Around 7,000 people visited tents set up in front of the Imperial Household Agency to sign congratulatory books, and 101 couples also celebrating their golden anniversaries this year attended a tea party at the imperial palace.

More about the imperial couple’s golden wedding anniversary is to be found in this thread. Read more in this article. Watch a video covering the anniversary at Reuters.

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