TOKYO – Japan’s Emperor Akihito turned 81 on Tuesday and called for peace to prevail in the country ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next year.
“In pursuing its sound development, I ardently hope that Japan will be able to go forward in the world as a stable, peaceful, and sound nation, in mutual support not only with neighboring countries but with as many of the world’s countries as possible,” Akihito said at a press conference.
In this context, the emperor referred to the war and the millions of victims it left around the world – 3.1 million of them Japanese –, with an eye on the 70th anniversary of the armistice which will be commemorated in 2015.
“To ensure that those people did not die in vain, I believe it is our duty as survivors, as well as our responsibility to future generations, to always continue to strive toward a better Japan,” said the emperor.
He also spoke of several other events that occurred in Japan this year, such as the tragedy of the Ontake volcanic eruption and the Nobel Prize in Physics for Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura (a naturalized U.S. citizen) for inventing the light-emitting diode, or LED.
“I am proud of the accomplishments of the three physicists and I would like to express my deep respect to them,” the emperor said.
He also expressed his condolences to those who have been affected by the eruption of Ontake volcano in September, which left at least 57 people dead, six missing and over 70 injured.
Akihito was crowned on Jan. 7, 1989 and is soon to complete 26 years as head of state.