Japan Emperor's Birthday Greeting Event Canceled amid Epidemic
Tokyo, Jan. 19 (Jiji Press)--Japan's Imperial Household Agency has announced a decision to cancel visits by members of the public to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Feb. 23 to congratulate Emperor Naruhito on his 61st birthday, in order to prevent a spread of the novel coronavirus.
The epidemic will lead the Emperor's birthday greeting event at the palace to be called off for the second straight year. On Feb. 23 last year, Emperor Naruhito celebrated his birthday for the first time since he ascended the throne in May 2019.
In line with the cancellation, well-wishers will have no opportunity to sign a greeting book at the palace on the Emperor's upcoming birthday, the agency said, adding that whether to hold other congratulatory events at the palace will be decided depending on the infection situation.
On the annual greeting event, the Emperor usually appears on the balcony of the palace with other members of the Imperial Family and addresses visitors. With tens of thousands of visitors flocking to the palace normally for the birthday event and forming large crowds, the agency determined that it should be skipped to avoid a possible spread of the virus.
A similar greeting event takes place on Jan. 2 every year. This year's event was canceled due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus, and Emperor Naruhito instead released a video message to the general public on New Year's Day.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]