The government on Friday approved granting pardons to roughly 550,000 petty criminals in light of Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony next Tuesday.

The Justice Ministry said the pardons, the first since 1993, will be granted on the premise that the emperor's enthronement is "an opportunity for the citizens of Japan to cleanse their spirit and start anew."

"Such decisions, however, need to be made with consideration of crime victims and their families," a clemency official said, explaining why those who committed grievous crimes will not receive the pardons.