Emperor Akihito and other members of the Imperial family offered their annual New Year’s greetings Wednesday to thousands of well-wishers at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

“At the beginning of the year, I wish every happiness for people in our country as well as in the world,” the Emperor said in a speech delivered from the balcony of Chowaden Palace. Some 72,850 well-wishers visited the palace, up 1,980 from a year earlier, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

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