Japanese Emperor Naruhito welcomed well-wishers to the Tokyo Imperial Palace on Monday for the first time in three years, reviving an annual New Year’s Eve tradition that had been interrupted during the Covid pandemic.
“Even today, wars and conflicts occur frequently in the world, and I feel deep sadness that many people have lost their lives. I strongly feel the importance of repeated dialogue and cooperation with other members of the international community to overcome differences in position,” the 62-year-old emperor said, according to an advance statement. by the Imperial Household Agency on Sunday.
Footage shows the Emperor and the Royal Family standing behind glass in the palace and waving to the crowd below. Many members of the public waved Japanese flags.
In abbreviated remarks on Monday, he wished everyone a “peaceful” 2023.
“I know there will be many difficulties, but I hope this year will be peaceful and good for all of you,” the emperor said. From 2020 to 2022, Naruhito gave his New Year’s speech via video message.
Naruhito was joined by Empress Masako, their daughter Princess Aiko, and other family members. Under Japan’s male-only inheritance law, Princess Aiko is barred from becoming Empress.
On Sunday, Naruhito attended a New Year’s reception at the Imperial Palace with foreign ambassadors.
For centuries, Japan’s rulers were seen as the living embodiment of the gods – but after the post-war US occupation of Japan, the country introduced a new constitution banning the imperial family from engaging in politics. Naruhito’s grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, was the last Divine Emperor.
Nowadays, Naruhito is a symbol of the state rather than the head of state and wields no political power. Despite this lower public profile, the emperor remains a revered figure in Japan.
Naruhito began his reign in 2019 after his father Akihito became the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.
. Emperor Japan pronounce his first speech New live since start pandemic