Tokyo, Dec 23 (IANS) Thousands of people on Friday visited the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to celebrate the 83rd birthday of Japan’s Emperor Akihito.
About 4,700 people were waiting at the main gate before it opened shortly after 9.30 a.m., public broadcaster NHK reported.
The Emperor, Empress Michiko, and other members of the Imperial family appeared on the palace balcony three times during the morning and waved at well-wishers.
The Emperor said he hopes 2017 will be a cheerful and peaceful year and that he prays for people’s health and happiness.
The Imperial Household Agency said more than 33,000 people visited the palace throughout the morning. That’s the largest number during Emperor Akihito’s reign.
In the afternoon, he will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Speakers of the Diet (parliament), who will visit the palace to celebrate his birthday.