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Japan, South Korea see surge in coronavirus cases; Japanese emperor's 60th birthday overshadowed

Japanese Emperor Naruhito, marking his 60th birthday, offered his sympathy to those affected by the new virus, as concerns over infections forced the traditional gathering of tens of thousands of well-wishers outside the royal palace to be cancelled. Sunday’s birthday is a special one for Naruhito, his first since becoming emperor. Sixty is considered a landmark age in the Japanese zodiac calendar.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
Tokyo Published on: February 23, 2020 7:33 IST
Japan, South Korea see surge in coronavirus cases; Japanese emperor's 60th birthday overshadowed
Image Source : AP

Japan, South Korea see surge in coronavirus cases; Japanese emperor's 60th birthday overshadowed

South Korea has reported more than 120 new virus cases and the country’s fourth fatality, raising the total number of those infected to 556. The fresh national figures for the disease that emerged in China in December came as the number of viral infections soared mostly in and around the southeastern city of Daegu, where they were linked to a local church and a hospital. Thousands of worshipers have been screened for the virus.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 113 of the 120 new cases were reported in Daegu and its surrounding province.

Japan emperor’s 60th birthday overshadowed by virus fears

India Tv - Japan, South Korea see surge in coronavirus cases; Japanese emperor's 60th birthday overshadowed

Image Source : AP

Japan, South Korea see surge in coronavirus cases; Japanese emperor's 60th birthday overshadowed

Japanese Emperor Naruhito, marking his 60th birthday, offered his sympathy to those affected by the new virus, as concerns over infections forced the traditional gathering of tens of thousands of well-wishers outside the royal palace to be cancelled. Sunday’s birthday is a special one for Naruhito, his first since becoming emperor. Sixty is considered a landmark age in the Japanese zodiac calendar.

Festivities surrounding the emperor’s birthday, however, have been toned down amid concerns about the virus. Plans for Naruhito to wave from the palace balcony to tens of thousands of well-wishers were among the events that were cancelled.

Japan has confirmed more than 750 cases, including 634 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked and quarantined in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

“As we face concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, I offer my sympathy to the patients and their families,” Naruhito told reporters at a new conference held ahead of his birthday. “I hope that the escalation of the infections will be contained as soon as possible.”

While global attention was on the cruise ship, the virus has already made its way into Japan and is gradually spreading in the country, from Okinawa in the south to Hokkaido in the north.

Experts say the infection in Japan is in the early stages of acceleration, prompting the government to prepare for a further spread of the virus.

A series of concerts, athletic events and festivals have been scrapped, with some people starting to question whether Japan can host this summer’s Tokyo Olympics as planned.

Naruhito, citing his fond memories of Tokyo’s first Olympics, which he saw at age 4, said he hopes to see this summer’s games carried out successfully.

India Tv - Japan, South Korea see surge in coronavirus cases; Japanese emperor's 60th birthday overshadowed

Image Source : AP

Japan, South Korea see surge in coronavirus cases; Japanese emperor's 60th birthday overshadowed

“For me, the (1964) Tokyo Olympics was my first encounter with the rest of the world,” Naruhito said.

As a young prince, he watched the closing ceremony with his parents. He said watching athletes of all nationalities march together made a strong impression on him.

“The scene I was able to see, I believe, became a foundation of my lasting commitment and prayer for world peace,” he said.

Naruhito and his wife, Masako, who is recovering from a stress-induced mental condition, have an 18-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko, who is graduating from high school and will study Japanese literature at Gakushuin University — also Naruhito’s alma mater, where he majored in history. Aiko is not eligible to inherit her father’s throne under Japan’s male-only succession rule, though there is a growing call to allow her to be an empress amid a declining royal population and shortage of male successors.

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