WORLD Japan emperor completes enthronement in ritual-bound ceremony

WORLD

Japan emperor completes enthronement in ritual-bound ceremony

AFP

14:09, October 22, 2019

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(Video: CGTN)

Japan's new Emperor Naruhito on Tuesday completed his ascension to the ancient Chrysanthemum throne in a solemn, ritual-bound ceremony performed before hundreds of dignitaries in the Imperial Palace.

"I hereby declare my enthronement at home and abroad," Naruhito said from inside an elaborately adorned structure housing his throne, with his wife Empress Masako alongside him standing before her own throne.

A powerful typhoon that hit Japan earlier this month, killing dozens, forced the cancellation of a huge parade, but the rest of the day's events went ahead with the pomp and tradition of a dynasty that claims more than 2,000 years of history.

The royal family filed into the palace's Pine Room dressed in heavy robes, with the women sporting sculpted wigs topped with golden headpieces.

Set in the centre of the room were the two structures housing the thrones, draped with purple curtains that were ceremonially opened to reveal the royal couple standing within.

Naruhito wore a outfit topped with a voluminous copper robe and a rarely seen black headpiece, while Masako wore a multi-layered kimono, trailed by attendants to help her move in the weighty outfit.

The ceremony was conducted largely in silence, with only drums and gongs sounding. Some 2,000 guests, including foreign dignitaries and royalty, stood at the sound of a deep drum beat before the proclamation began.

"I hereby pledge that I will always pray for the happiness of Japanese people and world peace and, by standing by the Japanese people, I will fulfil my duty as the symbol of Japan and of the unity of the people of Japan," added Naruhito.

"We, the people of Japan, will respect your highness the emperor as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the Japanese people," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the emperor, before exclaiming "Banzai!" or "Long live the emperor" three times.

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(Photo: VCG)

And a series of banquets will be held from the evening for guests ranging from Britain's Prince Charles to South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.

The government has also announced more than half a million people convicted of minor offences will be pardoned as part of the events.

Small crowds braved the rain to stand outside the palace, hoping for a glimpse of arriving visitors.

Oxford-educated Naruhito faces a delicate balancing act as emperor, seeking to continue his father's legacy of bringing the monarchy closer to the people while upholding the centuries-old traditions of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

And the royal line faces its own challenges, with a dearth of successors thanks to rules that prevent women from inheriting the throne.

The royal couple have one child, a 17-year-old daughter called Aiko.

Naruhito's brother Akishino is currently crown prince. And Akishino's son -- 13-year-old Hisahito -- is currently the only other remaining successor.

There have been calls to revise the succession rules, but so far there have been no formal moves.

Despite the succession worries, the royals remain broadly popular.

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