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Imperial family to offer New Year greetings for 1st time in 3 years

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
People line up at the plaza in front of the Imperial Palace for the Imperial Family’s 2019 New Year greetings in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

The Imperial family will offer New Year greetings at the Imperial Palace for the first time in three years, with a limited number of well-wishers who applied in advance, the Imperial Household Agency announced.

The agency started accepting applications for the Jan. 2 event from Wednesday, and will hold a lottery if the event is over-subscribed. The previous two New Year greetings were cancelled due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Emperor and Empress and other members of the Imperial family will appear on the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, in the morning and afternoon to receive greetings from the public.

According to the agency, family members will appear on the balcony six times. To prevent possible spread of the virus, only about 1,500 people will be allowed in at a time, with a total of about 9,000 people attending throughout the day.

For the last New Year greetings prior to the pandemic in 2020, about 68,700 well-wishers attended, with members of the Imperial family appearing five times.

Guest books for well-wishers to inscribe celebratory messages will be placed outside the Imperial Household Agency building next to the palace — advance registrations are not required to write a message.

Applications to attend the greetings ceremony will be accepted through Nov. 18, either online or by reply-paid postcard. Each application is limited to two people. Details are also posted on the Imperial Household Agency’s website in Japanese.

In the case of a lottery, applicants will be informed of the results by e-mail or post around mid-December.