Japan's emperor greets the public for New Year's

STORY: "The spread of the coronavirus, along with other factors, has caused much hardship to you all. With the passage of three years, I am truly happy to celebrate New Year with all of you today," Naruhito told the flag-waving crowd at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. "As the year begins, I pray for the happiness of people in Japan and around the world."

Naruhito, 62, was joined by other royals, including his wife, Empress Masako, 59, and his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, 89, who abdicated in 2019. The emperor's daughter, Princess Aiko, 21, participated for the first time, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

About 9,600 people, split into six groups over the course of the day, were chosen by lottery to attend the New Year's event, a much smaller number than the tens of thousands that usually gather for the traditional royal greeting.