Emperor Akihito on Tuesday urged the nation not to forget the victims of the March 11, 2011 disaster.
In his New Year’s message released by the Imperial Household Agency, the 79-year-old emperor said: “At the dawn of the new year, my heart goes out to the afflicted people, those who cannot return to the places they used to live because of radioactive contamination and those who have to spend the cold harsh winter in temporary housing. I sincerely hope that, in the future, the experience of the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami will be fully utilized in disaster prevention education and town planning so that the country moves toward assuring safety and security in the lives of the people.
“Our country is now going through difficult times because of the earthquake and other factors, but it is my wish that the people’s hearts will always be with the afflicted, and that everyone will support one another to overcome the various challenges. It is my hope that the new year will be better, even a little, for the people of Japan and the people of the world.”
The emperor and other members of the imperial family will make five appearances before the public at the imperial palace on Wednesday. The times are 10:10 a.m., 11 a.m., 11;50 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:20 p.m.