Emperor to take 1st domestic trip outside Tokyo since Jan. 2020

Japan's Emperor Naruhito will attend the opening ceremony of the National Sports Festival on October 1 in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

It will be his first domestic trip outside Tokyo in about two years and eight months.

The Imperial Household Agency said the Emperor will make a one-day trip to the city of Utsunomiya to deliver a speech at the ceremony. The agency said Empress Masako will accompany him if her health condition allows.

The agency said it considered having the Emperor make a two-day trip or an online appearance. But it decided a single-day trip was the best option after taking Japan's coronavirus situation and the programs at the ceremony into account.
The agency said it would conduct thorough anti-infection measures, such as having the Emperor make the trip by car rather than by train to avoid crowds gathering at stations or along roads. It added that the Emperor's entourage will take PCR virus tests.

The Emperor and Empress decided to abstain from their annual summer retreat to Nasu Imperial Villa in Tochigi Prefecture this year, after Japan's number of COVID-19 infections surged.

The Emperor last visited a location outside Tokyo in January 2020, when he traveled to Saitama Prefecture, north of the capital, with the Empress.

Arrangements are being made for the Emperor to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday in London.