National

Imperial couple conduct first official duty outside Tokyo since ascension

Kyodo

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attended a national tree-planting ceremony in Aichi Prefecture on Sunday in their first official duty outside Tokyo since the emperor ascended the throne on May 1.

“It is our important mission to grow a healthy forest for the next generation,” Emperor Naruhito said in a speech at the National Arbor Festival.

The event makes up one of the main festivals the emperor has traditionally attended along with the National Sports Festival and the Festival for the Cherished Sea.

It was the first speech at the event by a monarch since it was discontinued in 2009 to reduce the burden on Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who abdicated on April 30.

At the ceremony in the city of Owariasahi, the imperial couple planted cryptomeria cedars, camphor, magnolia and other types of trees.