Japanese Imperial family offers first New Year greetings at palace in 3 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left, the Emperor, Empress and their daughter Princess Aiko wave to well-wishers Monday from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

The Imperial family held its first New Year greetings in three years on Monday at the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

The annual event had been canceled since 2021 to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. This year, the Emperor and Empress were joined on the balcony of the palace for the first time by their daughter Princess Aiko, who turned 21 in December.

As a measure against infection, the participating well-wishers were chosen in advance by lottery. Shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, the Emperor and Empress appeared on the balcony, where they waved to the first group of about 1,500 people below.

Also present were the Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita, Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, and other members of the Imperial family.

“I am sure you have suffered numerous hardships over these nearly three years due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and other issues,” the Emperor said in his address to the people. “After three years, I am truly happy to be able to celebrate the New Year here with you today.”