Man held after entering Japan emperor's residence: media


Japan's Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako, speak for their New Year video message at their Akasaka Estate residence in Tokyo, in this photo taken on Dec 28, 2020. - Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout via Reuters

TOKYO (AFP): A 29-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly breaking into the Tokyo residence of Emperor Naruhito, where he reportedly spent two hours before being discovered, local media said Sunday (Jan 3).

The man, who has not been named, entered the usually heavily guarded Akasaka residential complex for imperial family members through the adjacent guesthouse on Saturday night, Fuji News Network (FNN) said.

He was caught by the Imperial Guard near the residence of Princess Yuriko, the great-aunt of Emperor Naruhito, about two hours after he broke in, the broadcaster said, quoting police officials.

FNN said the man had gained access via the entrance gate of the guesthouse, which was not guarded at the time.

The break-in was also reported by TBS news, which said the suspect had told police: "I wanted to meet members of the imperial family."

There were no details on whether the man had encountered any royals, but local media said no one was injured in the incident.

Local police declined to comment and the Imperial Household Agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019, after his father abdicated.

He and his wife Empress Masako delivered the traditional New Year's greeting on Friday by video message for the first time, after their usual appearance was cancelled to avoid crowds gathering as the country battles a third wave of coronavirus.

The incident is not the first time intruders have breached palace security.

In May 2020, a Japanese man was arrested after swimming across the Imperial Palace's moat to scale an outer wall and enter off-limits parts of the grounds.

And in years past, both Japanese and foreigners have been held after swimming across the moat, including a Brit who did so naked.

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