Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Sunday received New Year's greetings at the start of 2012 from other imperial family members and foreign ambassadors, while expressing hope in his New Year's message for cooperative and patient efforts to rebuild society after the nation was devastated by a series of natural disasters last year.
Among the well-wishers who extended congratulations to the emperor and the empress at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo were Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and about 200 ambassadors and their spouses.
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"It is certainly a pleasure to celebrate the New Year together," the emperor said at the ceremony. "At the beginning of the year, I wish for the prosperity of the nation and happiness of the people."
In his New Year message to the Japanese people released earlier in the day, the emperor expressed hope that everyone will cooperate and make patient efforts to rebuild Japanese society after the country was hard hit in 2011 by calamities, such as the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster as well as torrential rains which ravaged parts of western Japan in September.
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