Japanese emperor Naruhito begins enthronement ritual to ascend amid downpour

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 22, 2019

Naruhito, who ascended the Chrysanthemum throne in May, following the abdication of his father, Akihito, marked his official enthronement on Tuesday in front of around 2,000 guests from 170 countries.

The guests included Prince Charles, the USA transportation secretary Elaine Chao, China's vice president, Wang Qishan, the South Korean prime minister, Lee Nak-yon, and Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi attended the royal ceremony.

Earlier in the day, the couple, dressed in a white robe and white-layered kimono, respectively, ceremonially reported the conduct of the ceremony at the three sanctuaries within the palace precincts, including Kashikodokoro, a shrine dedicated to the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, from whom the imperial family is said to be descended.

At the sound of a gong in the Matsu-no-Ma, or Hall of Pine, the most prestigious room in the palace, two courtiers bowed deeply and drew back purple curtains on the "Takamikura" - a 6.5-metre high pavilion that weighs about eight tonnes.

Naruhito's address will be followed by a congratulatory speech by Abe, who will also lead three cheers for the new emperor to end the ceremony.

Emperor Naruhito, who also studied at Britain's University of Oxford and is the first Japanese monarch to have studied overseas, succeeded to the throne on May 1, the day after his 85-year-old father, former Emperor Akihito, stepped down.

The Prince of Wales witnessed a ritual-laden, centuries-old ceremony as Japan's Emperor Naruhito proclaimed his ascension to the throne.

A celebratory parade has been postponed until Nov 10 while the government devotes its attention to coping with the aftermath of the typhoon.

Emperor Akihito pledged during his own ceremony in 1990 to observe Japan's pacifist Constitution and fulfil his duty as a symbol of the state and for the unity of the people.

The enthronement ceremony will be followed by a parade through central Tokyo in which Naruhito and Empress Masako, his Harvard-educated, forner diplomat wife, will ride in an open-top Toyota Century limousine through the city for half an hour from 3.30pm.

Among the expected guests are Britain's Prince Charles, who with then-wife Princess Diana attended Akihito's enthronement, as well as U.S. Transport Secretary Elaine Chao.

A court banquet was held on Tuesday evening. Naruhito and Masako will host a tea party for foreign royalty on Wednesday afternoon.

In attendance are dignitaries from more than 170 countries and worldwide organizations, including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Britain's Prince Charles and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Although the public parade was postponed until November 10, NHK public TV said there were 26,000 police providing security. Naruhito has an 83-year-old uncle and two potential heirs - his younger brother Crown Prince Akishino and a 13-year-old nephew, prompting calls for a debate, possibly to allow female emperors.

Emperor Hirohito took the throne in 1926 at a time when Japan was a rising political, military and economic power.

With search and rescue operations ongoing, the government postponed a parade that had been meant to introduce the 59-year-old Naruhito and his wife, Masako, to the Japanese public. "Traffic has been restricted and it is causing inconvenience for ordinary people", said Yoshikazu Arai, 74, a retired surgeon.

"The emperor is necessary now as a symbol of the people, but at some point, the emperor will no longer be necessary. Things will be just fine without an emperor".

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