Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito said in his first New Year speech that he hoped for a year without natural disasters. Naruhito addressed the tens of thousands of well-wishers, many of whom waving Japanese flags and shouting Banzai, meaning long life in his first New year speech since ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne.
The 59-year-old emperor, accompanied by Empress Masako, said he was glad to celebrate the New Year together with the people. He however said he was worried about many people still living difficult lives because of typhoons and heavy rain last year. The royal couple, visited people last month in Japan’s northeastern region hit by powerful typhoon Hagibis. More than 80 people were killed in the disaster which also caused huge damage to local infrastructure.
Also attending the traditional New Year celebration was Naruhito’s father Akihito, who became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in around two centuries when he stepped down from the throne on April 30, ending his three-decade reign.
The central Tokyo palace, surrounded by stone walls and moats, is opened to the public twice a year, on the emperor’s birthday and the second day of New Year, for the royal family to greet well-wishers. The emperor will appear four more times at the balcony later in the day.