Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and his family greeted crowds of well-wishers from the balcony at the Imperial Palace on Monday in an annual celebration that was suspended for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is the first time the Royal Family made public New Year’s greetings since 2020 and came as Japan gradually returns to normalcy.
“The spread of the coronavirus has been difficult for everyone, but I am very pleased to be able to greet you again,” Naruhito told the flag-waving crowd at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
“We face many difficulties, but I hope for a peaceful and good New Year for all, and as the year begins, I pray for the happiness of people in Japan and around the world,” he added.
For the last two years, the emperor skipped the public greeting and instead sent video messages.
Numbers limited to prevent the spread of the coronavirus
The emperor’s daughter, Princess Aiko, made her first appearance at the New Year’s public greeting, according to the Imperial Household Agency.
Empress Masako and former Emperor Akihito, along with former Empress Michiko, were among the other royals that appeared with Naruhito on the glass-covered balcony at the palace.
Only about 1,500 well-wishers at a time, chosen by lottery, were allowed to enter the complex to attend the New Year’s event.
In 2020, before the pandemic started to affect Japan, a total of almost 70,000 well-wishers came to see Naruhito’s new year’s address.
Japan entered its eighth wave of COVID-19 infections in November when daily cases began exceeding 100,000.
Since the start of the pandemic, the country has registered about 30 million infections and almost 60,000 deaths.
The country lifted most restrictions on overseas travelers in October, but last month said it would require people coming from China to be tested on arrival.

By admin