Dec. 23 - Thousands of well-wishers march to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to celebrate the 78th birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito, who uses the occasion to remember the victims of the March 11 disaster. Nick Rowlands reports.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**TV TOKYO - NO ACCESS JAPAN/CLEARED FOR INTERNET USE, EXCEPT BY JAPANESE WEBSITES / BBC WORLD, CNN, NBC, CNBC MUST ON-SCREEN COURTESY 'TV TOKYO' IF PICTURES TO BE SHOWN ON CABLE, COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE IN JAPAN.*~ Thousands of well-wishers march across a bridge into the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to celebrate the 78th birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito. The Emperor has taken a more visible role this year, as he made an unprecedented television address to the nation after the March earthquake and tsunami, and also travelled to the disaster zone. Flanked by other members of the royal family, including Empress Michiko, the Emperor addressed the crowd from the balcony of the Imperial Palace. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE EMPEROR AKIHITO SAYING: "Learning about the large numbers of people who with their strength supported the survivors of the March 11 disasters, I truly believe they have given what is needed to have a strong heart during these times." The Japanese Emperor has no political role, but is considered a symbol of the state. His birthday is a national holiday. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.