On March 16th, Emperor Akihito of Japan made a rare television appearance in Japan. Akihito, who spoke for about 6 minutes, addressed the Japanese people and gave them his condolences. This was the first made-for-television address by a Japanese monarch.
“It is important that each of us shares the difficult days that lie ahead,” … “I pray that we will all take care of each other and overcome this tragedy”
Many compared this television address to the radio address his father, Emperor Hirohito, made when he announced Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. That was the first time most Japanese people ever heard the emperors voice.
After the earthquake in Kobe in 1995 which killed more than 6400 people, Akihito released a written statement.
The emperor is greatly respected in Japan. Akihito, who is 77 years old, became the emperor in 1989 after the death of his father.
His family line can be traced back through an astonishing 126 generations and more than 2,500 years of history.