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Japanese Emperor Plants Rice Seedlings

Japanese Emperor Akihito planted rice seedlings in a paddy field at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday keeping up an annual tradition first started by his father Emperor Showa to promote production of rice, Japan's staple food.

May is the usual season for rice planting in Japan.

Wearing a straw hat in the strong sunshine, the Emperor transplanted 70 seedlings of two varieties of rice in the tennis court-sized paddy field, Japanese media reported.

The 80-year-old Emperor also planted seeds that grew into seedlings. The seedlings, which are 15 to 20 centimeter-tall, will be harvested in autumn and used in a festival held at the palace.

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