March 28, 2012 by staff
Emperor Akihito, The 78-year-old Emperor Akihito had insisted on attending the memorial service, though he had been released from the hospital for heart bypass surgery less than a week earlier. While the emperor is technically just a figurehead, he is still deeply revered here.
Many Japanese see him a source of guidance in times of political difficulty, which have been many in the last 20 years. His speech was highly anticipated. Unlike Prime Minister Noda, who never mentioned the nuclear crisis in his speech on the anniversary, the Emperor addressed it directly.
As this earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power plant accident, those living in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods and had to leave the places they used to live. In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task.
“The emperor’s words were like a knife to my heart.” tweeted @shun1sta, in a string of comments typical of the public reaction. “He seemed in such pain as well… I can only imagine the determination he felt to say what he did.” “It seems to me that the Emperor was doing the most he could do, despite the constraints of his position, to communicate his opinion on the nuclear matter.” “Surely the government asked him not to mention the nuclear crisis. He must have fought hard to tell the truth.”
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