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Emperor feels grateful for strength of Japan people over pandemic

'I look forward to a bright future', he says

Emperor Naruhito, left, and Empress Masako in this photo provided by the Imperial Household Agency.   © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Emperor Naruhito, on the occasion of his 61st birthday on Tuesday, said he felt thankful for the "perseverance and strength of the people" in Japan in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic and expressed appreciation for medical professionals who have toiled through it.

The emperor offered his condolences for the many losses suffered in the past year due to the virus, acknowledging the efforts individuals have made to prevent the further spread of infections, as well as the difficulties and stress brought about by the pandemic.

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