In the Early throne ritual, Japanese emperor Guarantees to Meet the duty
Japanese Emperor Naruhito officially proclaimed his ascendancy to the throne on Tuesday at a centuries-old ceremony attended by dignitaries from over 180 countries, pledging to fulfill his obligation as a sign of the state.
Naruhito became emperor and his wife Masako became empress on May 1 at a brief ceremony, but Tuesday’s”Sokui no Rei” was a more elaborate ritual in the royal palace where he formally declared his change in status to the entire world.
“I vow that I will act according to the constitution and meet my responsibility as the sign of the nation and of the unity of the people,” the 59-year-old emperor declared, his voice slightly hoarse, in front of about 2,000 guests such as Britain’s Prince Charles.
“I sincerely hope that Japan will grow further and add to the friendship and peace of the worldwide community, as well as the welfare and prosperity of human beings through the public’s wisdom and ceaseless efforts.”
Naruhito is the first Japanese emperor born after World War Two. He acceded to the throne when his father, Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two decades, stressed that advancing age could make it tough to carry out official duties.
The long-planned parties, for which Japan announced a national holiday, were tempered following Typhoon Hagibis, which killed at least 82 people as it tore through Japan 10 days before, and pouring rain early on Tuesday.
A public parade has been postponed until next month to enable the authorities to concentrate on the typhoon clean-up, while Tuesday’s weather forced the palace to scale back the amount of courtiers in early robes getting involved in the courtyard ceremony.
But just before the ceremony started, the skies cleared and a rainbow appeared over Tokyo.
“Storm-like rain and winds came to a halt right before the service, and the sun came out. I, together with people around me, were transferred,” tweeted lawmaker Kentaro Sonoura, who attended the service.
“BANZAI” CHEERS, 21-GUN SALUTE
In the sound of a gong at the Matsu-no-Ma, or Hall of Pine, the most prestigious area in the palace, two courtiers bowed deeply and drew back purple drapes on the”Takamikura” – a 6.5-metre (21 ft ) large pavilion that weighs about 8 tonnes.
Naruhito was revealed standing before a simple throne, dressed in burnt-orange robes and a black headdress, with an ancient sword and a boxed stone, two of those so-called Three Sacred Treasures, placed beside him.
Fifty-five-year-old Harvard-educated Empress Masako, wearing heavy 12-layered robes and with hair flowing down her back, stood in front of a smaller throne into the side. Such traditional robes can weigh approximately 15 kilograms (33 pounds).
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a congratulatory speech before assembled dignitaries such as Crown Prince Akishino, the emperor’s younger brother, and his loved ones, all adorned in brightly colored robes. Other guests included U.S. Transport Secretary Elaine Chao and Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Abe led a trio of cheers of “banzai”, or “long life”, for the emperor, before a 21-gun salute. Guests from overseas weren’t needed to join in shouting the term, which for some increases memories of the wartime emperor worship.
Naruhito had entered the palace to cheers from admirers before reporting his enthronement to his imperial ancestors at three shrines on the palace grounds, dressed in pure white robes.
“As he’s young and energetic with outstanding leadership, I expect he will encourage the people of Japan, which has faced continuous disasters and typhoons,” said Tomoko Shirakawa, 51, who had been among the audiences of umbrella-clutching citizens packaging the region in front of the palace.
A court feast was held on Tuesday evening before Naruhito and Masako host a tea party for overseas royalty on Wednesday afternoon. The authorities pardoned roughly half a million people convicted of petty crimes, such as traffic violations, to mark the day.
Even though the public parade was postponed until Nov. 10, NHK public TV said that there were 26,000 police providing security.
IMPERIAL FAMILY FUTURE
Naruhito is unusual among recent Japanese emperors because his only child, 17-year-old Aiko, is female and can’t inherit the throne under present law. Until the law is revised, the future of the royal family for centuries rests rather on the shoulders of his nephew, 13-year-old Hisahito, who’s next in line for the throne following his father, Crown Prince Akishino.
Naruhito’s grandfather, Hirohito, in whose name Japanese troops fought World War Two, was treated as a god but renounced his divine status after Japan’s defeat in 1945. Emperors now don’t have any political authority.
Though many Japanese welcomed the enthronement ceremony, there was a demonstration in downtown Tokyo in protest against the imperial system, and three demonstrators were detained after jostling with riot police, Kyodo news agency reported. Tokyo police declined to comment.
“There is not any need for this elaborate ceremony. Traffic has been limited and it’s causing inconvenience for ordinary people,” said Yoshikazu Arai, 74, a retired surgeon.
“The emperor is essential now as a sign of the people, but at some stage, the emperor will no longer be necessary. Things will be just fine with no emperor.”