Emperor Hirohito, who celebrates his 87th birthday Friday, said in a news conference that World War II is his "most unpleasant memory" and urged the Japanese to pursue peace.
During the news conference marking his birthday, the emperor also said he feels well after intestinal surgery and needs years more to finish research in marine biology, his favorite hobby.
The world's longest-reigning monarch said he had replanted an endangered plant species on the palace grounds and "it is growing well because the imperial garden is similar to forest land."
Cut to 15 Minutes
The remarks were carried in Japanese by the Kyodo News Service and translated by the Associated Press. The annual news conference, reduced from its usual 30 minutes to 15 because of concern about the emperor's health, took place Monday but the reports were not released until today.
"I have recovered well," he said. "Since the beginning of April, I have been visiting the palace and a biological laboratory almost every day, but I do not feel tired and I am quite all right. I respect a doctor's advice and am trying not to overdo it."
The emperor had surgery to bypass an egg-sized, non-malignant tumor, an operation many thought he would not survive.
Later, newspapers said that his condition was worse than doctors had suggested and that he had also suffered from kidney and heart problems.
Sources said medical equipment has been moved from a hospital on the palace grounds into Hirohito's living quarters so he can die at home. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
Asked by the Japanese reporters about his memories of World War II, the emperor said: "After all is considered, the war was my most unpleasant memory. I am pleased with people's efforts for peace after the war. Hereafter, I hope the people do not forget this matter and protect peace."
He would not say what caused Japan to go to war, declaring: "I do not want to answer the question because this will involve criticism against persons."