Japanese authorities have cancelled public celebrations for Emperor Naruhito's birthday due to the spread of the coronavirus, according to an official statement.
"In light of various situations, we have decided to cancel a visit by the general public to the palace for His Majesty's birthday", the imperial household agency said. "His Majesty's appearance in the morning, as well as the public signing of the greeting book, will be cancelled".
Emperor Naruhito acceded to the throne last year, becoming the 126th Japanese monarch after his father's abdication.
The birthday address on Sunday, 23 February would have been the first by the emperor since his accession, but fear of infection has caused Tokyo to refrain from holding a crowded ceremony.
Last week, Tokyo reported the first death from the virus in the country, with more than 400 confirmed cases of the infection across Japan (over 350 of them on the Diamond Princes ship). At the moment, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has claimed at least 1,770 lives in China, with over 70,000 confirmed cases across the globe.
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