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Public New Year's Imperial Palace visits canceled for 2nd year over pandemic

Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and other Imperial Family members are seen during the Visit of the General Public to the Palace for the New Year Greeting at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Jan. 2, 2020. (Mainichi/Kota Yoshida)

TOKYO -- The Imperial Household Agency has decided to cancel plans to receive members of the public at the Imperial Palace to celebrate the 2022 New Year, out of consideration for the coronavirus pandemic situation.

    The decision was published in the government's official gazette dated Dec. 2. It is the second consecutive year that the Visit of the General Public to the Palace for the New Year Greeting has been canceled. A video message from Emperor Naruhito to the public is being considered.

    The New Year's event is held annually on Jan. 2. The Emperor, Empress and other Imperial Family members stand on the balcony at the Imperial Palace to receive greetings in celebration of the New Year from many members of the public.

    The 2020 event was the Reiwa era's first, and about 68,000 people visited.

    (Japanese original by Kanami Ikawa, Tokyo City News Department)

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