Photo/Illutration Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave to the crowds who gathered at the Imperial Palace to witness the emperor's New Year's greeting on Jan. 2, 2020. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Emperor Naruhito will deliver a video message to the public at the beginning of the new year, the Imperial Household Agency announced on Dec. 10.

It comes as the emperor’s New Year’s greeting to the public at the Imperial Palace, held every year on Jan. 2, has been called off due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This will mark Naruhito’s first video address to the public.

The video is expected to be released on Jan. 1 or 2, but the details are still under consideration, according to the agency. It is also undecided whether Empress Masako will be part of the video.

In a normal year at the imperial ceremony for the New Year’s greeting, the emperor stands on the palace balcony with the empress and the imperial family and delivers his address to the crowds who gathered in front of the palace.

With the emperor and the empress reportedly worried about people suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, many are eager to hear what the emperor will say.

His father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, sent video messages of his own at the time of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and in August 2016, when he said he would abdicate from the throne.

This is the first time that the emperor’s New Year’s greeting to the public at the Imperial Palace has been canceled since 1990. In 1989, Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, passed away.