Japanese emperor gives first public New Year greeting since pandemic

Tokyo, Jan 2 (EFE).- The Japanese Emperor Naruhito delivered his traditional public New Year greeting on Monday, after three years of hiatus due to the pandemic, from behind a glass on a balcony of the Imperial Palace.

“After three years, I am very happy to celebrate the New Year with you all,” the emperor, accompanied by Empress Masako and Princess Aiko, told well-wishers gathered there.

“I hope that this year will be a peaceful and good year for all of you,” he added.

This was the first time that Princess Aiko, the only child of Naruhito and his wife Masako, took part in the ceremony, since coming of age during the pandemic.

A total of six greeting sessions were scheduled to take place during the day, with about 9,600 people selected by lottery visiting the palace.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the resumption in the New Year’s address by the emperor comes as Japan cautiously eases rules on people’s movements despite signs of a resurgence of the virus.

The Asian country registered a record 420 deaths on Thursday, according to data from the health ministry.

Meanwhile, Naruhito and Masako, who will turn 60 this year, are scheduled to visit in June the northeastern prefecture of Iwate, which was hit hard by a major earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

In September, they are scheduled to visit the northern island of Hokkaido and the prefectures of Kagoshima (southwest) and Ishikawa (west coast) in October.

There is also the possibility of the imperial couple attending the coronation ceremony of Britain’s King Charles III in May. EFE


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