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Japan’s emperor prays for death of epidemic in New Year’s message




Japan’s Emperor Naruhito offers prayers for those who died during the pandemic, as he videotapes for the second year in a row to greet the New Year.

By Yuri Kageyama of the Associated Press

Jan 1, 2022, 2:52 am

• 2 minutes to read

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“By appreciating the bonds between people more than ever, sharing our pain and supporting each other, I hope from the bottom of my heart that we can get through these tough times,” he said.

Japan has recorded more than 18,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, but the frequency of deaths has declined in recent months. Naruhito also expressed concern about the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

Before the pandemic, the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo opened its doors at the beginning of each year to flag-waving fans.

Recently, the imperial couple Mako’s niece made headlines after marrying her college sweetheart and moving to New York, skipping the luxury wedding hype. Some disapprove of her husband, Kei Komuro, who works in a law firm and is trying to pass the US Bar exam, mainly due to his mother’s past financial disputes.

Naruhito, in his speech, referred to the tenth anniversary of the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan. He added that the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic, were a bright spot of “courage and hope”.

Masako, a commoner and Harvard graduate, offered the prayer at the end of Saturday’s six-minute video.

“I hope this year will be a nice and productive year for all of us,” she said before the two bowed.


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