Japanese Emperor Akihito turned 75 on Tuesday, pledging to work for the betterment of the imperial family. Akihito, recovering from illness, was seen in public for the first time in about two weeks as he greeted some 18,000 well-wishers in three appearances at the Imperial Palace.
"I have caused you all to worry since my health declined recently. But I believe I will recover gradually," he said from a balcony, flanked by Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito, his wife Masako and other family members.
"I am concerned that many people are facing a difficult year end with many problems in the midst of a difficult economic situation," he said as well-wishers waved national flags and shouted "Banzai!" signifying longevity.
The eldest son of wartime emperor Hirohito, Akihito next year marks 20 years on the Chrysanthemum Throne.
"I would like to continue to make efforts for the sake of the country and people and in search of a better form of the imperial household, while taking the advice of doctors," said the Emperor.