The Latest: Emperor's New Year greeting cancelled in Japan

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People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk through a shopping street in Osaka, western Japan, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

TOKYO — Japanese Emperor Naruhito and his family will not offer their New Year greetings from the palace balcony due to concerns over the country’s struggles with a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

The Imperial Household Agency said in a statement Friday that the annual greetings on Jan. 2 will not be held. The event traditionally draws tens of thousands of well-wishers to the palace garden. The greeting was last canceled in 1990 following the death of Naruhito’s grandfather.

Emperor Naruhito and his family have rarely made public appearances since the pandemic began, due to cancelation of palace events.

Experts have urged the government to reduce social and business activity before the holiday season because of a rise in serious coronavirus cases.

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