• JIJI, Kyodo, Staff Report

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Emperor Naruhito, who turned 60 on Sunday, attended a series of celebratory events at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo the same day together with his wife, Empress Masako.

Events to greet well-wishers from the general public on his first birthday since he ascended the throne, in May last year, were canceled in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In the morning, the emperor received congratulations from his brother, Crown Prince Akishino, as well as Crown Princess Kiko and other imperial family members, and from the heads of the government, the Supreme Court and the leaders of the two houses of the Diet.

In the afternoon, a special luncheon was held at the Homeiden hall, with about 450 people in attendance. Later, there was a tea party attended by ambassadors and their wives from various nations.

Emperor Naruhito said in his greeting that he was using the opportunity of his birthday to pray for the happiness of the people, the development of the nation and the health of those in attendance. On behalf of the guests, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe extended his congratulations to the emperor.

During a news conference Friday held in commemoration of his birthday, the emperor had pledged to stand by the people of Japan in responding to intensifying environmental and social challenges ranging from the novel coronavirus outbreak to climate change.

The emperor pointed to the climate crisis as one of the main challenges Japan has faced in recent years, and expressed sympathy with those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

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