Emperor Naruhito of Japan has canceled his traditional public birthday greeting, which he celebrates next Sunday, February 23, as a measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, whose cases are increasing in the country.
Naruhito, who turns 60 at the end of the week, planned to celebrate his first birthday greeting since his ascension to the throne on May 1, 2019 after his father’s abdication, but the event has been canceled “to avoid the possible spread of assistants, “a spokesman for the Imperial House Agency confirmed to Efe.
The Japanese emperor was going to appear next to Empress Masako and other members of the imperial family on the balcony of the Tokyo Imperial Palace three times to greet the crowd who, in addition, would be able to write their congratulations in a signature book, a event that has also been canceled, said the spokesman.
The agency currently has no intention of shuffling other dates for the public celebration of the emperor’s birthday.
The public greetings of the emperor usually concentrate a large number of Japanese from all over the archipelago and even foreign visitors, who take the opportunity to enter the imperial palace on one of the few occasions that is open.
Some 68,000 people attended the traditional New Year’s public greeting that Emperor Naruhito offered on January 2.
The last time a Japanese emperor’s birthday greeting was canceled was in 1996, in deference for the taking of the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima, in which hundreds of diplomats, military and businessmen were held hostage during the celebration of the 63 birthday of the then emperor Akihito.
Japan had detected until last Sunday a total of 414 cases of coronavirus under its jurisdiction, including the 355 confirmed infections on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that remains in quarantine in front of the city of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, since February 3 .