TOKYO Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito has used the occasion of his 56th birthday on Tuesday to remember those affected by the 2011 tsunami, ahead of the anniversary of the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 18,000 people in the northeast of the country.
Naruhito told the press that both he and his wife, Princess Masako, hope that people affected by the March 2011 tsunami are able to rebuild their lives as quickly as possible.
I have pain in my heart for the fact that a number of people are still living in severe conditions. With the reconstruction being half way, I hope their lives will improve without further delay and they will restore their comfortable livelihoods, he said.
Naruhito also recalled a trip made by his parents, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, to Palau Island to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II to reaffirm their commitment to peace.
I have renewed my attitude that we, people of the next generation, have to take over such a feeling, he said.
The crown prince later talked about his wife, Masako, who has been receiving treatment for more than a decade for depression caused by stress.
The princess has limited her public appearances and official engagements since the Imperial Palace revealed the state of her health in 2003.
Some have speculated that her depression is a result of the rigid protocol of the Imperial family and strong pressure to produce a male heir to continue the bloodline.
Nevertheless, Masako has participated in some events in recent years and Naruhito said he believes she is gradually recovering.
The future emperor of Japan said he hopes that his wife will expand the range of her activities step by step, without impatience.