Thank you for joining us on the national holiday, called “National Foundation Day.” On that day we welcomed 19 guests from USA, Australia and Spain. It was cold but the sky was very clear. We were divided into 3 groups.
Why this day is called “National Foundation Day” is that it is believed that first emperor in history was inagurated on that day more than 2600 years ago. The name of first emperor was Jinmu. Some scholars claim it was a legendary figure. Current emperor Akihito, is 125th from Jinmu.
To commemorate this day, one group of the guests were escorted to Nijubashi, which is irregular tour route. Nijubashi is on west side of the imperial palace. It is the main entrance to the imperial palace, emperor’s residence.
Many foreign guests want to know how we view emperor these days. Emperor is symbol of national unity. In the old days he was worshipped as a god but now he is considered a human-being. But he is still most respectable person in this country.
When you hear about emperor, he might look charismatic and very nationalist. But current emperor has rather soft image among us. In 2004 he met with a conservative member of Tokyo education board, Mr. Yonenaga at a garden party. Mr. Yonenaga said to His majesty “My duty is to let all the schools in Japan fly national flag and let all the teachers and students sing national anthem at ceremonies.” Then His majesty replied “Forcing others to do so is undesirable.” Emperor knows principle of democracy.
Recently it is reported 80 year-old emperor renewed driver license, which he claimed last renewal in his life. After the story was reported, everyone talked about this. He sometimes gives us common topic so that we can share unity as one nation.
Unfortunately he only drives within the imperial palace. That is his life. So we sympathise with his position. That may be one of the reasons that he is respected.
When you visit the imperial palace, please imagine Emperor Akihito driving a car. It is like the Queen Elizabeth of U.K. driving a car in a Buckingham palace. It looks gracious!