Japan's Emperor Akihito has said he is "deeply worried" about the crisis his country is facing following last Friday's earthquake and tsunami.
In an extremely rare appearance, the emperor went on live TV to make his first public comments on the disaster, and said he was praying for the people.
He spoke after technicians temporarily abandoned a quake-crippled nuclear plant as radiation briefly surged.
The 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami has killed thousands of people.
The stricken Fukushima Daiichi power facility has sent low levels of radiation wafting into Tokyo, spreading alarm in the city and internationally.
TV stations interrupted programming on Wednesday to show the emperor describing the crisis facing the nation as "unprecedented in scale".
The 77-year-old - deeply respected by many Japanese - said: "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."
As a cold snap blanketed parts of the disaster zone in snow, Emperor Akihito called for an all-out rescue effort.
Survivors have been struggling with little food, water or heat, while about 450,000 people have been staying in temporary shelters, many sleeping on the floor of school gymnasiums.
Japan's titular head of state - who acceded to the throne in 1989 after the death of his father Hirohito - said he prayed that every victim could be saved.
At least 10,000 people are feared dead following the catastrophe, which pulverised swathes of the country's north-east coast.
Source : BBC News