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Japanese Emperor Akihito Celebrates 77th Birthday

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Published on Dec 23, 2010

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The Japanese Emperor celebrates his 77th birthday today. Emperor Akihito addressed tens of thousands of well-wishers gathered at the the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

About 21,000 well-wishers gather at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Thursday, to celebrate Japanese Emperor Akihito's 77th birthday.

In Japan, the Emperor's birthday is a public holiday.

Accompanied by his wife Princess Kiko and other members of the Royal Family, Emperor Akihito greeted the crowd.

[Emperor Akihito]:
"I deeply appreciate your congratulations for my birthday."

Emperor Akihito spoke of the economic recession in Japan and record-breaking heat the country experienced during the summer. He ended with will-wishes for the crowd.

[Emperor Akihito]:
"I wish the coming year will be a good year for all of you."

The Emperor does not have a political role, but under Japan's constitution is considered a "symbol of the state and the unity of the people."

[Mitsukuni Shiina, Retiree]:
"It's my first time coming here to celebrate the Emperor's birthday, but I felt as if I'm celebrating one of my family members', by simply saying, 'Happy Birthday.'"

[Sumie Dake, Businesswoman]:
"I wish the Emperor a long and healthy life."

Government officials, including Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, also sent greetings to the Emperor.

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