National

Pandemic prevents six new ambassadors from presenting credentials to Emperor Naruhito

Kyodo

Six new ambassadors to Japan have not yet handed their credentials to Emperor Naruhito due to the coronavirus, leaving them ambassadors-in-waiting per diplomatic protocol.

But the ambassadors of Tonga, Rwanda, East Timor, Mali, Tanzania and Azerbaijan have started diplomatic activities anyway after submitting copies of their credentials to the Foreign Ministry.

The Imperial Household Agency plans to hold credential presentation ceremonies for the ambassadors, possibly by the end of the month, depending on the state of the pandemic in Tokyo and other parts of the country.

The final advisories against inter-prefectural travel were lifted Friday, nearly a month after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fully lifted the national state of emergency.

To serve as an “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary” in Japan, an ambassador-in-waiting must present credentials from the head of his or her country to the emperor in a ceremony at the Matsu no Ma state room of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

The ambassadors of Tonga and Rwanda were scheduled to present their credentials on April 9, but the event was postponed because the initial state of emergency declared two days earlier covered Tokyo.

The Imperial Household Agency, which oversees such events in coordination with the Foreign Ministry, said one reason for the postponement was to avoid attracting sightseers, as ambassadors travel by horse-drawn carriage from Tokyo Station to the Imperial Palace.

No ceremonies have been held since the Thai and Cuban ambassadors presented their credentials to the emperor on March 17.

The virus has also prevented some of Japan’s ambassadors from taking up their posts overseas via global restrictions on air travel.

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