Emperor Akihito yesterday gave his annual New Year’s greeting from a balcony at the Imperial Palace to a reported crowd of 74,000 people.
“I am truly delighted that we are able to celebrate a new year together,” said the 75-year-old.
Shouts of “Banzai!” and a sea of waving flags greeted the Emperor upon his emergence on the perch. Also appearing to wave to the assembled throng was his wife, Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako.
The Emperor’s speech also touched upon the economic crisis now gripping the nation. “I am concerned for the many people who are welcoming the new year amid suffering because of the tough economic times,” he said.