Japan Emperor Makes Unprecedented Address To Nation

Looking sombre and stoic, the 77-year-old Akihito said the problems at Japan’s nuclear-power reactors, where authorities were battling to prevent a nuclear catastrophe, were unpredictable and that he was “deeply worried” following an earthquake he described as “unprecedented in scale.”

Major TV stations interrupted normal programming for what was the emperor’s first public appearance since last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people.

“I hope from the bottom of my heart that the people will, hand in hand, treat each other with compassion and overcome these difficult times,” Akihito said.

Akihito and Empress Michiko have long played a role comforting the public in tough times, visiting the survivors of the massive quake that killed 6,400 people in the western port of Kobe in 1995. Reuters