TOKYO – Japan’s Empress Michiko turned 81 on Tuesday and in a video released by the Imperial Household Agency to celebrate the event, was seen strolling and lightly jogging in the gardens of the Imperial Palace with her husband, Emperor Akihito, despite being recently diagnosed with myocardial ischemia.
“So far, I have been able to continue as I have done before, without much change,” said Michiko in a written response to questions she routinely receives from the Japanese media on her birthdays.
In August, medical tests revealed the empress is suffering from myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart) affecting two out of three coronary arteries, which requires precautions against fatigue, though surgery has been ruled out for the moment.
Reflecting on the year gone by, she expressed sadness for those affected by the natural disasters that struck Japan, including volcanic eruptions and torrential rains.
Recent rains, in September, left at least seven dead and prompted evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people.
Speaking of her April visit to the Republic of Palau to honor the nearly 16,000 Japanese and 2,000 American soldiers who died there during the Second World War, Michiko said the place had made an “unforgettable impression” on her.
“I realized deeply once again how so many people in society are living with grief in their hearts,” she wrote.
The empress, however, said she felt heartened by the conduct of her sons – Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino – as well as that of her grandchildren, who took out time to attend events held to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and reflect seriously on war and peace.