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Japan emperor to make New Year address in video message due to virus

The emperor's New Year event on Jan. 2, 2020. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's Emperor Naruhito will make his New Year address in a video message after a decision last month to cancel his annual greeting event due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday.

    It will be the first video message released by the emperor since he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in May last year following the abdication of his father, former Emperor Akihito.

    In November, the agency said it has decided to call off the emperor's New Year event in January since it would draw into confined spaces huge crowds of people, many of them expected to be older and who would face a higher risk of contracting a severe form of the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

    At the event, which usually takes place on Jan. 2, the emperor, empress and other members of the imperial family greet thousands of well-wishers from a balcony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

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