It was just around this time last year that the global financial crisis occurred, and the economy worsened in Japan as well, leaving many people to face hardships. People lost jobs, homes, and opportunities to further their education, and many graduates who had initially been told they would be hired by companies had those job offers revoked. These hardships faced by the people were what worried me the most this past year. A new strain of influenza, the H1N1, which broke out in the first half of the year, is showing signs of becoming a worldwide pandemic, and as we enter the cold winter season, I hope that the damage from this can be contained as much as possible.Happy birthday!
This year, with the introduction of the lay judge system, much attention and interest have focused on the judicial system in Japan. It was also a year of major changes in the political world, brought about by a change in government. In the United States, a new administration was launched, and soon after taking office, President Obama made a speech in Prague, expressing his strong determination to eliminate nuclear weapons. This month, the Nobel Committee awarded President Obama with this year's Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his leadership role in trying to create a world free of nuclear weapons, as well as for his other efforts, expressing the Committee's endorsement and support for the President's initiatives. The horror of nuclear weapons lies, in addition to the magnitude of the destruction, in the enormity and misery of the effects of radiation which continue to afflict the victims long afterwards. As a country which has suffered atomic bombings, I believe that Japan should make efforts to seek further and deeper understanding of this from the international community.
A year has passed since a young Japanese aid worker working on the construction of an irrigation channel in Afghanistan lost his life in a terrorist attack. I learned that the construction in which he was involved from an early stage was completed in August this year, opening irrigation channels extending 24 kilometers in eastern Afghanistan. Hearing that there is now greenery spreading around the channels, and recalling the time His Majesty and I visited Afghanistan in 1971, I was deeply moved, thinking of the joy of the local people who will eventually be able to farm there.
This year marks two milestones, the 20th year of His Majesty's accession to the throne and our 50th wedding anniversary. It made me happy that many people in Japan so kindly celebrated our golden wedding anniversary in April, and again in July in Canada and in Hawaii when His Majesty and I visited there.
I hope that His Majesty will celebrate in good health the 20th anniversary of His accession to the throne this autumn and that the various events related to the ceremony will all be carried out smoothly. This is the sincere wish of all of us in the family.
The following is the text of the official announcement that US President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize:Ha! Ha! Ha! Is today April Fool? Is this a joke? Why? What did he do? I can not understand why he has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.
The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics.
Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.
Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.
The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations.
Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting.
Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.
Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future.
His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.
For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman.
The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges".