Japan has decided to cancel a public gathering to celebrate the birthday of its new Emperor Naruhito in view of growing cases of deadly coronavirus in the region. The imperial household agency, in a statement, said that the visit by the general public to the palace for Emperor’s birthday has been cancelled in light of “various situations”.
After the abdication of Akihito, Naruhito’s father, the Emperor proclaimed enthronement in a royal ceremony on October 22. It was to be the first birthday celebration for the Emperor since he proclaimed the throne last year. The last time such gathering was cancelled was when hostages were taken at the Japanese Embassy in Peru during an event to mark the former Emperor’s birthday in 1996.
Naruhito, born in 1960 in Tokyo Imperial Palace, got married to Masako Owada in 1993 after he became the crown prince in 1991 following his grandfather’s death. Emperor and Empress have a daughter named Aiko, Princess Toshi who was born in 2001 after Masako suffered a miscarriage in 1999.
The decision to cancel the gathering comes after the government warned its citizens to avoid crowds and “non-essential gatherings”. Japan’s Health Minister Katsunobu Kato has urged the public, especially elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, to avoid non-urgent, non-essential gatherings.
According to the latest report, 2,048 new cases of coronavirus infections and 105 more deaths have been confirmed, taking the total death toll because of the deadly virus to 1,770. While most of the cases are from Hubei province of China and the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, other countries, including Japan and the Philippines, have also now reported deaths related to COVID-19.
The latest cause of concern has been the deaths of people with no travel history to China. On February 13, Japan confirmed the death of an 80-year-old woman who was not even the part of the quarantined cruised off the Japanese coast.