International royalsJapan

Empress Michiko turns 83, relieved that Emperor Akihito can abdicate under special law

As Empress Michiko of Japan celebrated her 83rd birthday last Friday, she expressed her tremendous relief at the special law that will allow her husband, Emperor Akihito, to abdicate.

Empress Michiko responded in writing to questions that journalists had asked before her birthday. “His Majesty, after having devoted Himself for so many years to pursuing the role of the Emperor as the symbol of the State, will now, in His advancing years, be able to spend some days of calm and quiet. The prospect gives me an immeasurable sense of relief.”

“I deeply appreciate many people who helped make this possible,” Japan’s Jiji Press quoted the Empress as writing.

The Imperial couple made a few domestic trips this year, and she wrote that she thought that those trips, “may possibly be the last opportunities for me to visit these prefectures publicly accompanying the Emperor” while he is on the throne.

She looked back at the year 2017 and expressed concern for the areas hit by natural disasters. She was also impressed by the appointment of Izumi Nakamitsu, a Japanese woman, as UN high representative for disarmament affairs, noting that she learnt from Izumi Nakamitsu’s remarks that disarmament efforts will lead to conflict prevention.

She also pointed out that the winning of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was “very meaningful.” She also mentioned that she has read The Remains of the Day by Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature and congratulated him on the win.

Empress Michiko has performed many official duties this year, despite not being in full health. According to the Imperial Household Agency, she suffers from chronic nerve disease and also suffered labial herpes and shingles in the spring.