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Emperor cancels ritual attendance due to cough

Japanese Emperor Akihito, alongside Empress Michiko, leaves the venue of a ceremony marking 30 years of his reign, at the National Theatre of Japan, in Tokyo, on Feb. 24, 2019. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Emperor Akihito canceled his attendance at rituals and other events scheduled for Wednesday after developing a cough the previous night, the Imperial Household Agency said.

The agency said the move was a precautionary measure. The rituals are unrelated to a series of ceremonies being held before the 85-year-old emperor becomes the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in about 200 years.

The emperor has been taking part in a series of ceremonies ahead of the enthronement of his elder son Crown Prince Naruhito on May 1 when the new imperial era Reiwa, announced by the government Monday, begins.

He was also scheduled in the afternoon to greet volunteers who clean the Imperial Palace, but Empress Michiko will attend the event alone and convey gratitude on the emperor's behalf, the agency said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the imperial couple, joined by the crown prince and his wife Crown Princess Masako, attended a concert celebrating their 60 years of marriage and 30 years of his reign.

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