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Emperor Naruhito will release a video message on Friday, New Year’s Day, as a substitute for his Jan. 2 public appearance, which has been canceled for 2021 due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday.

The video message will be uploaded to the agency’s website at 5:30 a.m. Friday. It will be also used in place of the emperor’s written New Year’s statement, according to the agency.

It will be the first time for Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the throne in May 2019, to issue a video message to the public.

His father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, released video messages in the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and in August 2016. In the latter video, he indicated his wish to step down as emperor.

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