Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on Friday, saying in a statement they felt "deeply emotional" as they reflected on their decades together and thanking the public for their support.

"We are deeply grateful for having been able to experience many things together and come this far by helping each other and sharing joys and sorrows while receiving support from many people," the couple said.

Their married life has seen the birth of their only daughter, Princess Aiko, now 21, and the 63-year-old emperor's May 2019 enthronement, launching a new imperial era. But it has also seen the 59-year-old empress struggle with long-term mental health issues.

(From L) Empress Masako, Emperor Naruhito and their daughter Princess Aiko are pictured at the Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on May 30, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency)(Kyodo)

Much of their five years as emperor and empress has coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, and they have sought to abide by their principle of standing by the people, reiterating it in their statement.

The two said they will continue believing it is important for the imperial family to "share the people's sorrows and joys."

The emperor and empress were married on June 9, 1993, after first meeting in 1986 at a reception in Tokyo for Spain's Princess Elena. They saw each other again in 1992, and the then-crown prince proposed to the empress, then known as Masako Owada, that year.

The Harvard- and Oxford-educated former diplomat has said that she was touched when he told her, "I will protect you with all my might for my entire life."

She gave birth to Princess Aiko in December 2001, following an earlier miscarriage. The then-crown princess, teary-eyed, said following the birth she was filled with gratitude.

Princess Aiko is now a fourth-year student studying Japanese literature at Gakushuin University in Tokyo. She has been performing duties as an adult member of the imperial family since turning 20.

Despite bearing the princess, the empress faced relentless pressure to have a boy as the Imperial House Law limits heirs to males, and she began receiving treatment for a physical and mental ailment in late 2003.

The Imperial Household Agency, which manages imperial family matters, revealed in 2004 that she was diagnosed with stress-induced "adjustment disorder."

The empress continues to struggle with it, with her doctors stating last December that although she is recovering, her condition fluctuates and she may need time to recharge after major or successive events.

Throughout their marriage, the emperor has been strongly protective of his wife. He made waves at a May 2004 press conference by stating, "It is true there were developments that were regarded as denying Masako's career (as a diplomat) as well as her personality."

His comments referred to his wife's anguish at having her hopes dashed of playing a meaningful role in furthering relations between Japan and other countries in her new role. She had quit the Foreign Ministry to join his family.

Over the years, the empress has slowly increased her public appearances, visiting evacuation centers to meet people affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan's northeast, and going on her first official overseas trip in 11 years to the Netherlands in 2013.

When the emperor ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019, ushering in the Reiwa imperial era with the empress, concern grew further that she may be overexerting herself with new official duties as empress.

But she attended key events, including those related to the enthronement. She also welcomed with her husband their first state guests as emperor and empress -- then-U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife in May 2019 -- reminding the country of her language abilities and international background.

The coronavirus pandemic, which hit Japan at the beginning of 2020, shrank the number of events for the imperial family to attend in person, prompting the couple to join events online.

But with the pandemic tailing off, more official duties have been conducted in person recently. For the first time since the enthronement, the couple traveled to commemorate the victims of the March 2011 natural disaster with a visit to Iwate Prefecture in early June.

Last month, the empress attended an imperial spring garden party held for the first time in around four and a half years and a Japanese Red Cross Society meeting as its honorary president, a role inherited from her mother-in-law, former empress Michiko.

The couple also attended British Queen Elizabeth II's funeral in London in September 2022. A goodwill visit to Indonesia in the latter half of June is being planned, the government said.

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