Tokyo, Dec. 23 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who turned 87 on Wednesday, is deeply concerned about the substantial impact the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused to the health and life of people in Japan and abroad.
The Emperor Emeritus is worried that the pandemic has also affected the activities of volunteers dispatched abroad by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, according to Imperial Household Agency officials.
The former Emperor also continues to care about Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture that suffered a fierce ground battle in the final phase of World War II.
He watches television programs about the history of Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Okinawa that burned down last year, hoping for its reconstruction, agency officials said.
The Emperor Emeritus was worried when dozens of cars were stranded because of heavy snowfall on the Kan-Etsu Expressway in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan, last week. When the traffic jam was cleared, he was relieved, agency officials said.
The pandemic has also affected the life of the Emperor Emeritus.
He temporarily suspended research in fish at the biology institute in the Imperial Palace after moving from the palace to their temporary residence at the end of March.
He resumed his research at the end of May after infection prevention measures were taken, such as the introduction of a web conferencing system.
The Emperor Emeritus currently commutes to the institute twice a week. His thesis on the genus Callogobius is likely to be completed in the near future.
He visited Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine in Tokyo, in October to offer prayers. It was his only opportunity to go out since he moved to his temporary home, except for his commute to the Imperial Palace.
Emperor Emeritus Akihito appears deeply relieved as the ceremonies related to the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito, his first son, were completed with the “Rikkoshi no Rei” rites, in which the rise of Crown Prince Akishino, his second son, to the first in line to the throne was proclaimed, in November, agency officials said.
While he has no major health issues, the Emperor Emeritus more often than before asks Empress Emeritus Michiko about events in the past.
He sometimes makes errors and feels at a loss, but he laughs away with his wife, agency officials said.
In light of difficulties the Japanese public are experiencing amid the pandemic, events to celebrate the birthday of the Emperor Emeritus were canceled.