Japanese Emperor Akihito made an unprecedented televised address to his disaster-stricken nation Wednesday, saying he was “deeply worried” by the crisis at damaged nuclear reactors and urging people to help each other in difficult times.
Looking somber and stoic, the 77-year-old Akihito said the problems at Japan’s nuclear-power reactors were unpredictable and described the earthquake that sparked a huge tsunami as “unprecedented in scale.”
TV stations interrupted coverage to carry the emperor’s first public appearance since last week’s catastrophe.
“I am deeply hurt by the grievous situation in the affected areas. The number of deceased and missing increases by the day we cannot know how many victims there will be. My hope is that as many people possible are found safe,” Akihito said.
The plight of hundreds of thousands left homeless by the quake and tsunami worsened overnight after a cold snap brought snow to some of the worst-stricken areas. The death toll stands at 4,000, but more than 7,000 are listed as missing and the figure is expected to rise.
“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,” he said, urging survivors not to “abandon hope.”