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Friday, Nov. 13, 2009

Emperor marks 20th year of reign

Celebrates anniversary with renewed call for global peace, plea not to forget wartime sacrifices


Staff writer

Emperor Akihito on Thursday voiced his deep anticipation for global peace, saying new generations must not forget the sacrifices made during the war.

News photo
Aglow: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko wave lanterns before a crowd at an event at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of the Emperor's enthronement. KYODO PHOTO

"Sixty-four years have passed since the war ended, and three out of every four Japanese now were born after the war," the Emperor said at a ceremony in Tokyo to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his coronation.

"It must not be forgotten that today's Japan is built on huge sacrifices, and it is important for this country's future to pass that on to those born after the war," he said.

Reflecting during the government-sponsored ceremony on the last two decades, the Emperor expressed condolences for those who have suffered in natural disasters, including the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. He chose the collapse of the Soviet Union as the most memorable incident that took place overseas, saying he felt it would lead to the formation of "a more transparent world."

"But the world after that did not become peaceful as the people had waited for in hope," he said. "It is important for all nations to cooperate and continue working together, so that people can mutually enjoy peace and prosperity."

The Emperor formally ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on Nov. 12, 1990, after his father, Emperor Hirohito (known posthumously as Emperor Showa), died on Jan. 7, 1989. Thursday's commemorative event took place at the National Theater of Japan in Chiyoda Ward and saw top government officials express their best wishes for the Emperor and Empress Michiko.

"I sincerely express my congratulations as the representative of the Japanese public," Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in his address.

Hatoyama touched on the Emperor's visit to quake-struck Niigata in 2004, saying the Imperial Couple for the past two decades have walked hand-in-hand with the public. The prime minister also said he was deeply moved by the Emperor's 2005 visit to war memorials in Saipan and his prayers for victims of war.

"We renewed our pledge again for peace" after the historic visit, Hatoyama said.

Thursday's ceremony was attended by more than 600 lawmakers, as well as Supreme Court justices and former prime ministers.

Ricardo Paredes, El Salvador's ambassador to Japan, gave a congratulatory speech as dean of the diplomatic corps.

"Your majesty in the 20 years as Emperor has guided and inspired the Japanese nation through several major events that have impacted the global order of things," Paredes said. "The entire world admires the contributions of your majesty."

No succession talk

Kyodo News

The government is not currently studying if the Imperial House Law, which only allows male heirs to succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne, should be revised, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said Thursday.

"We are not currently discussing the issue," he told reporters, declining to say if an amendment was needed.

The Imperial family currently has 23 members, but only seven princes are in line to the throne, of whom Prince Hisahito, 3, is the Emperor's only grandson. Prince Hisahito is third in line after Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino, the Emperor's sons.

In November 2005, a government panel on the Imperial succession submitted a report that proposed allowing females and their descendants to ascend to the throne by revising the current law enacted in 1947. An amended law would allow Princess Aiko, 7, the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, to become the first female monarch since the 18th century.



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