Emperor Naruhito, on the occasion of his 63rd birthday Thursday, expressed deep sorrow at the suffering of people in conflicts around the globe and offered prayers for peace in Japan and the rest of the world.

While the agency in charge of the imperial family's affairs has been considering a new approach to public relations, potentially including the use of social media, the emperor acknowledged the need to send out information "in a manner that is easy to understand."

Emperor Naruhito speaks at a press conference at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Feb. 21, 2023, ahead of his 63rd birthday on Feb. 23. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

"I strongly feel the importance of thinking beyond one's own country to engage in dialogue to overcome differences and cooperate in solving problems," the emperor told a press conference held at the Imperial Palace ahead of his birthday and as Friday marks one year since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Each of us is being asked once again what we can do to realize a peaceful world," he added.

Regarding his 30th wedding anniversary this June, the emperor said he and Empress Masako "have come this far by sharing our joys and sorrows."

The empress "is an important presence who supports me in daily life and someone with whom I can talk regarding both public and private matters," he said.

On ways to improve information dissemination by the Imperial Household Agency, the emperor said, "It is also important to communicate information about the imperial family at the right time and in a manner that is easy to understand in order to build relationships of trust with the public through repeated exchanges."

Experts say an overhaul of the agency's communication style, including greater exposure of the family, is long overdue, in sharp contrast with the big online presence of the British and other European royal families.

At the press conference, the emperor also expressed hope that people would support each other to overcome challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and the skyrocketing cost of living.

Imperial family visits to Japan's regions have resumed after the pandemic prompted their suspension for around three years.

The emperor said his visit to Okinawa last October for the 50th anniversary of its reversion to Japan from U.S. rule after World War II "engraved in my heart the importance of peace, in the hopes that the horrors of war will never happen again."

Emperor Naruhito greeted the public Thursday, expressing his gratitude to preselected visitors from a balcony at the palace in his first birthday appearance since he ascended the throne. The event was canceled for the past three years due to the pandemic.

"I am truly grateful for having my birthday celebrated in this way by all of you," he said.

"I hope that this spring will be a peaceful one for each and every one of you."

Around 4,800 people have been selected by lottery to attend the event.

The emperor, who was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate last year but no further abnormalities, has expressed gratitude for the public's concern, saying in the press conference, "I am spending my days as usual."

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