TOKYO Japanese Empress Michiko celebrated her 80th birthday on Monday by issuing a call to work for peace both inside and outside her country which next year will mark a milestone anniversary of the end of World War II.
I believe that next year, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, will be a year when we will all think about what life must have been like for many people during and after the war, the empress said in a statement.
It is important for all of us today, who are enjoying the benefits of peace, to continue to make every effort to nip the buds of conflict and suffering both in Japan and abroad, and to always aspire strongly towards peace in the world, she added.
The Japanese government has already finished preparations for a tour by the empress and her husband, Emperor Akihito, to the South Pacific island of Palau, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the war, to honor the souls of the dead.
Michiko also expressed her appreciation for Akihito, who celebrated his 80th birthday last year.
He has constantly guided me and the children (princes Naruhito and Akishino, and princess Sayako), at times strictly, but always with a generous heart, she said.
I think this has allowed me to reach where I am, Michiko said recalling her 55 years of marriage to the emperor.
The empress said she was saddened by the torrential rains which hit the city of Hiroshima this past summer and also the recent eruption of the Mount Ontake volcano.
The two natural disasters killed dozens of people and Michiko offered her condolences to the families of the victims, while praising the work of search and rescue teams.