Emperor, Empress attend Imperial Guard parade for first time

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have attended a parade by members of the Imperial Guard for the first time.

About 280 officers took part in the parade on Friday at the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. The annual event was held for the first time in three years.

An open-top car carrying the chief of the Imperial Guard Headquarters, Matsumoto Hiroyuki, drove past officers.

A mounted unit and officers on motorcycles and sidecars marched to music played by a police band.

Matsumoto noted in a speech that massive security operations are expected this year for the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima. He urged the officers to be prepared to respond to various situations.

The officers will provide security for the visit by the general public to the Imperial Palace to celebrate the Emperor's birthday in February. It will be the first time for the event to be held since he ascended the throne in 2019.

The guards will also accompany the Emperor and Empress to their official visits across Japan, which resumed last year.