People remove snow on a street in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. File/Reuters
Scores of flights were cancelled as heavy snowfall hit several areas of Japan on Thursday, while New Year's Eve celebrations were curtailed as the country tackles a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has urged people to celebrate New Year quietly, and avoid non-essential outings, amid the twin crises.
Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways cancelled or planned to cancel a total of around 140 flights, public broadcaster NHK reported, adding that a bullet train had suspended services in some parts of the northern Yamagata prefecture.
A 70-year-old man died in the northern Iwate prefecture after he apparently fell into a river while trying to shift show with a shovel loader machine, NHK said.
Japan has been battling a third wave of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks and on Monday started barring the entry of non-resident foreign nationals after detecting variants of the virus from Britain and South Africa.
Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Wednesday the government may have to consider declaring a state of emergency if the number the COVID-19 cases grow.
Japan's Imperial Household Agency has cancelled an annual New Year's event set for Jan.2, at which Emperor Naruhito and other imperial family members were due to greet well wishers.
People have been asked to stagger visits to shrines, traditionally popular destinations over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
In Tokyo, where the governor has warned of a potential explosion in COVID-19 cases amid record daily increases, extra train services will be suspended from late Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.
About 3,400 people have died in Japan from around 231,000 cases during the pandemic so far.
The state of emergency, which is a non-binding request, centers around asking restaurants, bars and other businesses to voluntarily close at 8pm. Japan has never had a mandatory lockdown, but has managed to keep infections relatively low with social distancing and such voluntary measures.
People wearing masks strolled around the perimeter of the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, taking pictures and posing for selfies among the trees.
I sigh. What a year 2020 has been. Reminiscing the events and incidents that took place this year sends shivers down my spine, occasionally. As we turn the leaf on another decade it’s time for me to bid adios to an unforgettable 2020
Japan this month issued a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas to tame a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. The measure includes a request for restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m. although there are currently no penalties for non-compliance.
The leaders discussed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them in various fields to serve development in the two friendly countries and expand the base of their common interests.
The case dated back to last July when an Asian girl filed a complaint in which she stated that her friend living with her in the same apartment attempted to kill herself.
Sheikh Sultan published photos of his meeting with the administrative body of Khorfakkan University, and he also met with a delegation from the University of Exeter.