Crown Princess Masako turned 53 on Friday and said in a statement that she remembered watching Emperor Akihito’s televised message in August suggesting his desire to abdicate with a feeling of awe.
“I watched the TV broadcast feeling awed and took his majesty’s thoughts seriously,” said the crown princess, who has been receiving treatment for a stress-induced illness for over a decade.
In the statement released by the Imperial Household Agency, she said she was “filled with emotions” to see the emperor and Empress Michiko’s dedication to their duties, including the aged imperial couple’s visit to the Philippines in January, and wished them good health.
Emperor Akihito, 82, expressed concern in the pre-recorded video message that age and failing health could one day mean he is unable to fulfill his constitutional role as “the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people.”
Regarding her own health, the crown princess said, “I have made efforts to carry out as many duties as possible,” expressing thanks for the hospitality she received during several domestic trips this year. She said people’s welcoming smiles provided “great encouragement.”
The number of official duties performed outside her Togu Palace and other activities over the past year came to 57, according to the crown prince’s palace in central Tokyo.
“The crown princess has gained confidence by accumulating experience of properly performing her official activities and, as a result, the range of her activities has widened,” a medical team for the crown princess said in a separate statement.
But the team added that she has not fully recovered and her health condition is up and down.
The crown princess touched on the recent ill health of her only child, Princess Aiko, saying it made people worry.
The 15-year-old princess — who is in her third year at Gakushuin Girls’ Junior High School in Tokyo — was absent from school for a month and a half through early November due to health reasons.
“Her health condition has largely recovered,” the crown princess said.
The princess has increasingly accompanied her parents carrying out official duties such as attending a Mountain Day ceremony in Nagano Prefecture in August.
“I am feeling that she is learning more about self-awareness and her role as a member of the imperial family,” the crown princess said.