Japan’s Emperor Delivers New Year Speech

Posted January 2nd, 2012 at 4:15 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Japanese Emperor Akihito has expressed his hope for Japan’s recovery from disasters that devastated the island nation last year.

Emperor Akihito made his comments in a New Year’s address to the nation Monday. The emperor appeared on a bullet-proof balcony of the Imperial Palace with his family. He told throngs of well-wishers he shares in the nation’s pain over the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and hoped for the country’s recovery.

“I pray for the recovery of the disaster areas to continue and I hope that this year will be a better year for each and every citizen.”

Japan’s northeast coast was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the strongest quake on record in Japan, and a massive tsunami that triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since a reactor meltdown in Chernobyl, Ukraine, 25 years earlier.

Japan’s March 11 quake and tsunami left nearly 20,000 people dead or missing.

In his New Year’s speech, Emperor Akihito said he felt sorrow for those who died in last year’s disaster, as well as those who were forced from their homes because of the nuclear crisis that followed.

“There are great concerns for the people who are still going through hardships from the disaster. As the rebuilding of the affected areas continue, it is my wish that this year will be a better year for each and every person of this nation.”

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown after the tsunami destroyed back-up generators. Government officials have announced that the plant is now in a stable state known as “cold shutdown.” But experts say it could take decades to fully clean up and decommission the plant.

Southern Japan was hit by a magnitude 7.0 quake Sunday that caused buildings in Tokyo to sway, but there were no reports of injuries or damage, and no tsunami warning was issued.