Japanese emperor greets crowd at palace after COVID hiatus

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TOKYO — Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and his household waved to throngs of New Yr’s well-wishers from the balcony on the Imperial Palace on Monday within the return of a celebration halted for the previous two years by the pandemic.

Naruhito supplied prayers for folks’s happiness and world peace within the look Monday beside his spouse, Empress Masako, and their daughter.

Princess Aiko, who turned 21 in December, was showing in her first New Yr’s public greeting. Authorized maturity is 20 in Japan and a situation for participating in some occasions that includes the emperor’s household.

Additionally standing by was Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who abdicated in favor of his son in 2019, and his spouse, Empress Emerita Michiko.

Naruhito famous the previous few years had been full of hardships introduced on by the pandemic.

“These must have been hard times for many of you,” he instructed the group beneath, many waving small Japanese flags.

For the final two years, the emperor skipped the general public greeting and as a substitute despatched video messages. Solely those that utilized and have been chosen upfront have been allowed within the Imperial Palace grounds this yr due to pandemic restrictions on massive crowds.

In September, Naruhito made his first journey overseas for the reason that pandemic and since he ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne, to attend the state funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Naruhito studied at Oxford College and performs Western classical music, and his household has constructed shut relations with British royalty.

The emperor doesn’t have political energy however carries symbolic significance for Japan, and he’s typically welcomed adoringly by Japanese folks when he attends cultural occasions and makes different public appearances.

Observe Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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