National

Japan's former emperor and empress likely to celebrate new year with public

Kyodo

Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko are expected to join other members of the imperial family in greeting New Year’s well-wishers, sources at the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday.

If the couple attends the event, at which Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will offer greetings at the Imperial Palace on Jan. 2, it would be their first public appearance together with the emperor and empress since the imperial succession earlier this year.

The couple has withdrawn from all public activities since the emperor emeritus on April 30 became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in about 200 years, with his elder son succeeding him the following day.

The former and current emperor have not appeared together at public occasions since the succession, to avoid the perception that having the two together creates dual imperial authority.

When Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako greeted some 140,000 well-wishers in May after his enthronement, the emperor emeritus and empress emerita did not take part.

For the upcoming New’s Year greetings, the emperor and empress will appear before the public along with other members of the imperial family five times throughout the day, with the emperor delivering a speech.