天皇誕生日 – Tenno Tanjoubi

Edited by Anna Popper

On the occasion of the birthday of His Majesty Naruhito, Emperor of Japan, observed on 23 February, a grand reception was hosted by H.E. Mr Masato Otaka, Ambassador of Japan to Hungary, at Marriott Budapest.

The event was attended by senior government officials, including the Guest of Honour Mr Gergely Gulyás, Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of cultural and academic life, business circles in Hungary, nationals and friends of Japan.

The evening began with a wonderful rendition of the national anthems of Japan and Hungary, performed by two great sopranos: Hiroko Kato and Lilla Horti.

Then Ambassador Otaka took the floor and asked the distinguished attendees to observe a minute’s silence to pay tribute to the memory of tens of thousands of people, victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

This was followed by an address from the Head of Mission, dedicated to His Majesty the Emperor for his 63rd birthday:

“Welcome to the Emperor’s Birthday Reception. This is our first Emperor’s Birthday Reception in three years since 2020. His Majesty Naruhito ascended the throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan in April 2019, marking the end of the Heisei era and the beginning of the Reiwa era (meaning: Order and Harmony). During this time numerous events took place. It is my honour to inform you on the activities of His Majesty the Emperor over the past three years.

Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, His Majesty continued to fulfil his duties as the symbol of the state and the unity of the people. During this period, His Majesty conducted numerous ceremonies and events, including the annual New Year’s Greetings and the Shinto Rite to pray for the country’s well-being.

He also made video messages to offer his support and encouragement to those affected by the pandemic. In addition, His Majesty has continued to be actively involved in assisting victims of natural disasters, including the Typhoon in December 2019, torrential rain in Kyushu in July 2020 and in Western Japan in August 2021, and a devastating landslide in Atami 2021, through such means as actual or online visits to the disaster stricken areas.

His Majesty also participated in many events related to environmental protection and promotion of traditional culture. During this time numerous events have taken place. In 2021, in the context of COVID-19, Tokyo hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as we believed it was important to make it happen for athletes looking forward to the event. Despite the challenges, the Olympic Games concluded successfully without disruption. And I congratulate the Hungarian delegation for their outstanding performance earning a total of 36 medals.”

“The international community is currently facing a turning point in history. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was disheartening particularly in the sense that it directly violated the UN Charter, which the international community established after two world wars to ensure a true and lasting peace. It has brought serious humanitarian suffering. Additionally, North Korea has escalated its missile launches with increasing frequency and new tactics. The security situation in the Asia-Pacific region is becoming more challenging.

We face many other challenges, such as the energy crisis, inflation and demographic change, and Japan is taking a wide array of actions to address these challenges. In the area of security, the Japanese government adopted three new national security documents in December 2022.

The Children and Families Agency will also be established in April 2023 as a national agency to combat the declining birth rate and support children and families. Furthermore, Japan continues to improve its energy mix, for instance by increasing the share of renewable energies.

Japan has assumed the presidency of the G7 this year and will serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for two years, in 2023-2024. Japan will continue to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the true rule of law, and will work together with the international community to this end.”

“Japan-Hungary economic relations are robust, with a significant amount of direct foreign investment by Japanese companies in Hungary. There are currently over 180 Japanese companies operating in Hungary and we expect more to come.

Also worth mentioning is the success of prominent Japanese individuals in Hungary, such as Sou Fujimoto, an architect who recently received the Public Media Person of the Year award for designing the Hungarian House of Music in Budapest. Moreover, as we understand, the new Hungarian National Gallery will be designed by Japanese architects.”

Photo by György Palkó

“Reflecting the cultural ties between Hungary and Japan, a concert by Japanese and Hungarian musicians will take place tonight at the View rooms next door. The six amazing musicians: Kato Hiroko (soprano), Horti Lilla (soprano), Nagao Haruka (violin), Sugano Chikara  (flute), Miyamoto Keiko (clarinet) and Murata Marika (piano), who I strongly recommend, perform high quality music.

In addition, there are some fantastic artworks by three artists related to Japan: Ms Réka Gergely, sculptor, who pursues the essence of art/sculpture by having been inspired Japanese traditional style. Ms Anna Révész, painter, whose work is sensitive and meticulous, based on Japanese painting techniques. Ms Noémi Wakabayashi, leather dresser, who produces creative and sophisticated design products without wasting materials. I hope all of you enjoy their amazing exhibits.”

“I cannot close my remarks without mentioning the Japanese companies and restaurants that are operating with us tonight. The Japanese companies and restaurants offering booths today include Suzuki, Toyota, Nissin, Asahi Beer, Kicsi Japan, Intercooperation, Teavolution, and Finesake. Japan is currently proposing traditional sake brewing as a candidate for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Today I hope you will enjoy Japanese sushi, beer, sake and wine that we have prepared for you all. Thank you for your kind attention.”

After the congratulatory speech on behalf of the Hungarian government by Mr Gergely Gulyás in honour of the 63rd birthday of His Majesty Naruhito, Emperor of Japan, a toast was proposed by Mr János Csák, Hungarian Minister of Culture and Innovation.

The First Birthday Address of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan in Four-Year Reign

Public birthday appearances and speeches by the emperor are an annual tradition in Japan. His Majesty Emperor Naruhito delivered his first birthday address on 23 February 2023 from the balcony of the Imperial Palace, after ascending the throne in 2019. Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Emperor’s public appearances have been suspended for the last three years.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito (L) and Empress Masako greet people during his birthday celebrations at the Imperial Palace on February 23, 2023. (Photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin / POOL / AFP)

In his message to the nation, His Majesty urged support for people in difficult situations and praised people who help the vulnerable groups of the society in difficult times.

“Many people are having difficulties in their daily life amid the pandemic and rising prices. My heart feels pain when I think about people in vulnerable positions, who are aged, who have disabilities, who are in need of support, and people in poverty and their children. But it is encouraging and I am thankful to know that there are many people who support these people in vulnerable positions,” the Emperor said.

Emperor Naruhito expressed his deep sadness for people suffering in conflicts around the world and emphasized the importance of dialogue at a press conference held at the Imperial Palace ahead of his birthday: “I feel deep sorrow for the difficult reality that the world faces.”

“I strongly feel the importance for every country to think not only about itself, but to engage in dialogue to overcome differences and cooperate in solving problems.”

“We face a question of what each of us can do to achieve a peaceful world.”  His Majesty stressed.

Sources: Embassy of Japan in Hungary,

The Japan Times