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Emperor Naruhito expressed his hopes for progress toward world peace on Saturday at the Imperial Palace, where tens of thousands of people gathered to witness his first public greeting since ascending to the throne on May 1.

“I am deeply blessed and grateful for everyone here today who has offered congratulations,” the emperor said in a prepared statement. “Not only do I pray for everyone’s health and happiness, I hope that our nation can join hands with countries around the world and together make progress toward achieving world peace.”

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