In a statement released this week by the Imperial Household Agency Empress Michiko has expressed awe and respect at her husband, Emperor Akihito’s decision to potentially abdicate in a few years because of his advancing years and failing health. She said that the announcement came as a shock to her, and caused a little pain, though she added he had obviously given a lot of thought to the announcement and discussed the matter with his sons. Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino. The announcement was made on the occasion of the Empress’s 82nd Birthday.
Like the way our own Prince Philip has supported the Queen during her reign, so Empress Michiko has supported Emperor Akihito. Although concern was expressed when they first married in 1959, as she was not one of the Imperial circle, though the media considered their romance a fairy tale as they met on the tennis court. She has embraced her role, and has undoubtedly been one of the most well-travelled of consorts. The couple during their reign have been keep to increase the visibility of the Japanese monarchy, they have visited around forty countries and all forty-seven prefectures in Japan, during their married life.
It is that sense of duty and humility, that has so endeared Empress Michiko to the Japanese people but that at times has been at a cost to the Empress. It is perhaps very useful looking forward that as the crown passes to Crown Prince Naruhito that the couple will be there to give support, encouragement and advice to the new Emperor and Empress. It was revealed that the former Empress highly criticised Michiko and her suitability for her son. The suffered severe depression in the 1960’s and one point was unable to speak for a number of months.
Royal Central is currently covering both moves within Japan to arrange a smooth transfer of power between Emperor Akihito and Crown Prince Naruhito and also health concerns over Crown Princess Masako and her daughter. As is being reported elsewhere on Royal Central, the Crown Princess missed the celebrations for Empress Michiko’s birthday.