News / Asia

Japan's Emperor Makes Rare Speech to Nation

People watch a television broadcasting Japan's Emperor Akihito's televised address to the nation at an electronics retail store in Tokyo, March 16, 2011.
People watch a television broadcasting Japan's Emperor Akihito's televised address to the nation at an electronics retail store in Tokyo, March 16, 2011.

The Emperor of Japan has taken the rare step of addressing the nation, calling on his people to keep up their strength and morale as they cope with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that wiped out swathes of the nation's northeast.

The revered Emperor Akihito said on Wednesday he was "deeply moved by the tragic situation" in the affected areas, and he was praying that people may still be found alive in the debris.

Government officials have confirmed more than 3,000 people have died, and more than 10,000 are missing.

Emperor Akihito spoke of his concern for the "serious situation" unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and said he hoped that the emergency efforts would prevent the situation from getting any worse.

The emperor said the government was making all-out efforts to provide relief to survivors, but that cold weather, shortages of food, drinking water and fuel are making the life of evacuees extremely harsh.

He said he was "deeply touched, particularly by the courage and resilience of the people" who had survived the disaster and were trying to rebuild their lives, and he thanked everyone for the work being done in the massive relief effort.

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