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Japan cancels Emperor's festive address over coronavirus fears

Japan cancels Emperor's festive address

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The celebratory address of Japanese Emperor Naruhito on the occasion of his birthday has been canceled as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Interfax reports.

Naruhito was to deliver his traditional greeting on February 23, when he turns 60.

"In light of various situations, we have decided to cancel the visit by the general public to the palace for His Majesty's birthday," the imperial household agency said in a statement a day after the government warned people to avoid crowds and "non-essential gatherings."

Traditionally, the Emperor in Japan gives a welcome speech twice a year - on January 2, as well as on his birthday. More than 68,000 people gathered at the Palace in January this year to listen to Naruhito.

The last time Japan canceled the Emperor's birthday address was in 1996 due to the seizure of the Japanese Embassy in the capital of Peru. 

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