Japanese Emperor celebrates 82nd birthday

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Emperor Akihito greeted well-wishers from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on his birthday. Rough Cut-subtitled (no reporter narration).

Japanese Emperor celebrates 82nd birthday

ROUGH CUT SUBTITLED (NO REPORTER NARRATION)

Thousands of well-wishers marched to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to wish Emperor Akihito a happy 82nd birthday.

The Emperor, his wife and members of the royal family waved to crowds from palace balcony.

The Emperor is rarely seen in public.

He has spent much of the past two decades working to bring the monarchy closer to ordinary citizens.

STORY: Thousands of well-wishers gathered at the Japanese Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Wednesday (December 23) to celebrate the Japanese figurehead’s 82nd birthday.

About 23,000 well-wishers lined up, some from the break of the dawn, to march together into the Imperial Palace to get a closer glimpse of Emperor Akihito, the Imperial Household Agency said.

Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko stepped out onto the balcony of the Imperial Palace at 10 a.m. (0100 GMT) to be greeted by the sea of people who waved Japanese flags and chanted, “long live the Emperor.”

Members of the Japanese Imperial family, including Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, Prince Fumihito Akishino, Princess Kiko Akishino and their daughter Princess Mako and Princess Kako, also joined the event.

“I deeply appreciate your congratulations for my birthday,” Akihito said behind a transparent shield.

“Yesterday was winter solstice. The days will be getting slightly longer from now on. I hope the coming year will be a bright year for all of you,” he said.

Akihito, who had a heart bypass surgery in February 2012, appeared healthy and in good spirits as he spoke to those gathered before him.

Akihito will address the public on two more occasions in the afternoon, and is scheduled to receive official greetings from the heads of the three branches of government, including Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

While the Emperor is active as a figurehead for the nation he rarely addresses the public except on set occasions such as his birthday and before overseas trips.

Akihito ascended to the throne after the death of his father, Hirohito, in 1989. He has spent much of the past two decades working to heal the wounds of a war waged across Asia in his father’s name and helped bring the monarchy closer to ordinary citizens.

Tags : birthday, 82nd, celebrates, emperor, japanese

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