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Japan's empress celebrates birthday

Japan's Empress Michiko, turning 77, said staying healthy is an uphill battle.

As Japan's empress marked her birthday, she acknowledged that age has made it more difficult for her and Emperor Akihito, who is also 77, to carry out their official duties.

The popular imperial couple did not travel abroad this year, although they actively reached out to survivors of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Emperor Akihito delivered an unprecedented TV address to the nation, and the pair visited evacuees for seven straight weeks from the end of March through May.

Empress Michiko suffers from severe pain in her left arm, while Akihito has been on hormone therapy since prostrate surgery eight years ago.

He also takes medication to prevent the narrowing of his coronary arteries.


From Belfast Telegraph