Japanese Emperor greets New Year well-wishers


TOKYO: Japan’s Emperor Akihito delivered his traditional New Year address Monday with tens of thousands of people flocking to the Imperial Palace for what could be his last such appearance after he expressed his desire to abdicate. It was his first New Year message since he announced in August that his advancing age and weakening health mean he may no longer be able to carry out his duties, setting the stage for Japan to prepare for an historic abdication. The Imperial Palace said some 58,600 people attended his address in fine weather, many waving small Japanese flags and shouting “Banzai” or “Long live”. “At the start of this year, I wish for happiness and tranquility of people in the world and our country,” the emperor said in a televised address from a glass-covered balcony at the palace, where he was flanked by other members of the royal family.



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