Emperor Naruhito, marking 60th birthday on February 23, expresses intention to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki

by Seiji Shitakubo, Staff Writer

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito marked his 60th birthday on February 23. Prior to the celebration, he expressed his views at the Akasaka Imperial Residence regarding the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and touched on the continued aging of atomic bomb survivors. “I am certainly aware that the A-bomb survivors have suffered tremendously,” he stressed. Moreover, he said he would continue to direct his attention to the A-bombed cities in future, expressing his intention to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Emperor answered questions from the Chugoku Shimbun about how he interprets the ongoing call for the abolition of nuclear weapons among A-bomb survivors as they advance in age and regarding whether he plans to visit the A-bombed cities.

“As the A-bomb survivors grow older, I am aware that they experienced great difficulties and that those still alive continue to struggle,” said the Emperor.

“As someone who hopes for world peace, I would like to continue directing my attention to Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he added. “I very much hope to have an opportunity to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Following conclusion of the interview, the Emperor contacted the Chugoku Shimbun through a chamberlain at the Imperial Household Agency to further clarify what he had said. “Since my early childhood, I have always observed a silent prayer with the Emperor Emeritus and the Empress Emerita on the dates commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he added in the later comment.

While he was the crown prince, he would offer flowers at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, in the city’s Naka Ward, when he visited Hiroshima to participate in events such as the Opening Ceremony for the 12th Asian Games Hiroshima in 1994, a national ceremony for Greenery Preservation in 1998, an opening event for the National Cultural Festival in 2000, and a ceremony celebrating National Arbor Day in 2006.

(Originally published on February 23, 2020)