Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and his family waved to New Year’s wishers from the balcony of the imperial palace on Monday, after celebrations were halted by the pandemic for the past two years. Emperor Naruhito appeared next to his wife, Empress Masako and their daughter on Monday to pray for people’s happiness and world peace. Princess Aiko, who turned 21 in December, appeared in her first public New Year’s greetings. In Japan, the legal age of majority is 20, which is a requirement for some events featuring the imperial family.
Standing alongside are Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who stepped aside for his son in 2019, and his wife, Empress Emeritus Michiko. Deren pointed out that the past few years have been filled with difficulties caused by the pandemic. “It must have been a tough day for many of you,” he told the crowd below, many of them waving tiny Japanese flags. For the past two years, the emperor has skipped public greetings and sent video messages instead. Due to the restrictions imposed by the epidemic on a large number of people, only those who have applied in advance and been selected are allowed to enter the Forbidden City this year. In September, Emperor Naruhito made his first foreign visit since the outbreak and ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, attending the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Naruhito studied at Oxford University, played Western classical music, and his family has close ties to the British royal family.
The emperor has no political power but has symbolic significance to Japan and is widely loved by Japanese people when he attends cultural events and other public appearances.
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