Emperor Naruhito ascends throne in Japan with 'sense of solemnity', Latest World News - The New Paper

Emperor Naruhito ascends throne in Japan with 'sense of solemnity'

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Emperor Naruhito ascends Chrysanthemum Throne with 'sense of solemnity' as new imperial era starts

TOKYO: Japanese Emperor Naruhito formally took up his post yesterday, saying he felt a "sense of solemnity" and pledging to work as a symbol of the nation and the unity of its people.

Former Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko stepped down after three decades in their roles on Tuesday in a brief and simple ceremony, with Mr Akihito thanking the people of Japan and saying he prayed for peace.

Emperor Naruhito, 59, technically succeeded his father just as Tuesday became Wednesday but his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne was formalised in a mid-morning ceremony, the first part of which his wife and other royal women could not attend.

Emperor Naruhito, the first emperor born after World War II and the first to be raised solely by his parents, expressed gratitude for their work and said he felt solemn at the thought of the burden he is taking on.

"I pledge that I will always think of the people, and while drawing close to them, fulfil my duties as a symbol of the Japanese state and the unity of the Japanese people in accordance with the Constitution," Emperor Naruhito, wearing a tailcoat and several large medals, said with a small smile.

"I sincerely hope for the happiness of the people and further progress of the country, and for world peace," he said in the Imperial Palace's Matsu no Ma, or Hall of Pine.

In the first stage of the ceremony, imperial chamberlains carried state and privy seals into the hall, along with two of Japan's Three Sacred Treasures - a sword and a jewel - which together with a mirror are symbols of the throne. They are said to originate in ancient mythology. Emperor Naruhito was flanked by his brother and heir, Crown Prince Akishino, during the ceremony, which lasted about five minutes.

His wife, Empress Masako, was not in the room in accordance with custom barring female royals, but for the first time a woman did watch - Ms Satsuki Katayama, who was taking part as a member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet.

Empress Masako, wearing a floor-length white dress and a tiara, entered the room for the second part of the ceremony with the other adult royal women.

Mr Abe said Japan looked up to the emperor. "We are determined to create, amid the fast-changing international environment, a bright future for a proud Japan that is peaceful and full of hope," he said.

US President Donald Trump, who will be the new imperial couple's first diplomatic test when he visits Japan this month, extended his congratulations.

"As the Japanese people embark upon a new era (Reiwa), we will renew the strong bonds of friendship between our two countries," he said. - REUTERS