Tokyo, April 13 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Imperial Household Agency said Monday that it has decided to cancel this year’s Imperial spring garden party, scheduled for May 27, because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The event was due to be hosted by Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
The agency holds a garden party hosted by the country’s Emperor and Empress in spring and autumn every year, at the Akasaka Imperial estate in the Motoakasaka district in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, with some 2,000 guests, including people with remarkable achievements in various fields, invited to each event.
It will be the 10th time for a spring or autumn party to be canceled since the start of country’s Heisei era in 1989, according to the agency. Reasons for the past cancellations included natural disasters, such as the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the death of an Imperial Family member.
Last year, both of the spring and autumn parties were canceled due to scheduling difficulties because of a series of ceremonies related to Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement on May 1 that year, when the country’s new era, Reiwa, started to succeed Heisei.
The 2020 spring event was scheduled to be the first Imperial garden party in Reiwa.
Kenji Ikeda, deputy head of the agency, told a news conference on Monday that the agency judged that it would be “inappropriate to carry out the spring garden party,” where many guests would hold conversations at close distance while eating and drinking together.
Ikeda also cited the Japanese government’s declaration last week of a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic for seven prefectures, including Tokyo, where infections with the novel coronavirus are surging.