Japanese Emperor Akihito turns 80, thanks wife for standing by him
TOKYO (AFP) - Thousands of people thronged Japan's Imperial Palace on Monday to celebrate Emperor Akihito's 80th birthday, as he lauded his wife for standing by him in his "lonely" pursuit of leading the world's oldest monarchy.
Empress Michiko, a wealthy flour magnate's daughter, was the first commoner in modern times to marry into Japan's imperial family.
Following their fairy-tale wedding in 1959, Michiko, now 79, also became the first empress to raise her children herself, famously making them "bento" lunch boxes to take to school.
"Being an emperor can be a lonely state," Akihito said in an interview released by the Imperial Household Agency on Monday.