© Reuters. First day of the brand new yr on the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo


By Irene Wang

TOKYO (Reuters) -New Yr’s Day is the largest vacation in Japan’s calendar, however this yr’s festivities have been subdued following document highs in new coronavirus instances nationwide and calls from the federal government to remain dwelling.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito appealed to the general public to work collectively by way of the pandemic in a videotaped New Yr’s Day deal with to the nation launched on Friday.

“I’m wishing from my coronary heart that everybody can transfer ahead throughout this tough time by supporting and serving to each other,” he stated within the deal with, which was launched instead of an annual public look by the imperial household in the course of the New Yr holidays. The occasion was cancelled this yr due to the pandemic.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga additionally launched a written assertion, vowing he would “shield the lives of the individuals” and promising to work on “virus countermeasures and financial restoration.”

“The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Video games shall be held this summer time,” he added, saying that preparations for the delayed occasions had been beneath approach.

About 3,480 individuals have died in Japan from round 235,700 instances in the course of the pandemic up to now.

New Yr’s Day festivities in Japan entails spending time with household and praying at native temples, the place hordes of individuals want for good luck within the coming yr.

But it surely was a quieter affair than ordinary at Meiji Jingu, a shrine in central Tokyo, with masked guests queuing behind tape on the bottom to remain socially distant from each other.

“Final yr was stuffed with miserable information due to the coronavirus, so I prayed that folks around the globe would discover extra happiness,” a lady in her 40s known as Nami stated, after providing her prayers on the shrine.

“I prayed for a speedy finish to the pandemic,” stated Megumi, a sports activities coach in her 40s, including that she hopes to “get by way of the yr by having fun with the brand new ways in which I can join with associates.”

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