Japan emperor proclaims enthronement in ancient-style ceremony

In this image made from video, Japan's Emperor Naruhito proclaims his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, on Oct. 22, 2019. (Pool via AP). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Oct 22, 2019, Kyodo. Japanese Emperor Naruhito officially proclaimed Tuesday his enthronement before roughly 2,000 guests, including dignitaries from about 190 countries and international organizations, in a solemn ceremony at the Imperial Palace featuring elements of ancient protocol, reported The Mainichi.

“I pledge hereby that I shall act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan,” the 59-year-old emperor said from inside the 6.5-meter-high canopied Takamikura imperial throne in the ceremony, the equivalent of a coronation.

Dressed in a “Korozen no goho,” a dark-orange robe with a design dating back to the ninth century that emperors wear on special occasions, the emperor added that he always wishes for “the happiness of the people and the peace of the world, turning my thoughts to the people and standing by them.”

Empress Masako in layered court kimono was seated on the adjacent Michodai throne.

In the ceremony known as the “Sokuirei Seiden no gi” at the Seiden State Hall, which was held half a year after the emperor’s ascension to the throne, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conveyed felicitations from the floor of the “Matsu-no-Ma” state room.

“We will make our utmost efforts to create a peaceful, bright future full of hope for Japan” and an era where people come together to develop the country’s culture, Abe said.

The prime minister in a tailcoat then led the guests in three banzai cheers wishing for the longevity of the emperor.

Heavy rain from the morning has prompted the Imperial Household Agency to reduce the number of the officials in traditional Japanese attire from about 70 and move them inside to the corridor from the courtyard, where they were originally scheduled to line up carrying swords and bows.

Two of the three items of imperial regalia — the imperial sword and jewel — which the emperor inherited in May as proof of his ascension to the throne, were presented at the ceremony along with the state and privy seals.

Earlier in the day, the couple, dressed in a white robe and white-layered kimono, respectively, each paid a visit to the three sanctuaries within the palace precincts in central Tokyo, including Kashikodokoro, a shrine dedicated to the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, from whom the imperial family is said to be descended.

Security was tightened with up to 26,000 police officers mobilized from across Japan for the ceremony.

The emperor succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, the day after his 85-year-old father, former Emperor Akihito, stepped down as the first Japanese monarch to do so in about 200 years.

Former Emperor Akihito and former Empress Michiko, as well as 96-year-old Princess Yuriko, widow of the late Prince Mikasa, who was the emperor’s granduncle, did not attend the ceremony, which was held as a state occasion.

The ritual followed the style of former Emperor Akihito’s enthronement ceremony in 1990, as well as that of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, held in Kyoto in 1928. The rite of succession for the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy has a history of more than 1,000 years.

There had been criticism that the form the ritual takes contravenes the postwar constitutional separation of state and religion as well as the sovereignty of the people, since the emperor declared his enthronement from an elevated position above the prime minister standing below.

Japan made the day a national holiday for the celebration with the imperial couple initially scheduled to parade in the capital following the ceremony, but the event was postponed to Nov. 10 in the wake of a deadly typhoon earlier in the month.

In the morning, people gathered along streets in the rain to get a glimpse of the imperial couple as they separately headed for the event at the Imperial Palace from the Akasaka Imperial Residence, waving from their cars along the way.

“I am full of emotions after being able to see their majesties today. I had been looking forward to this day and I want to support them into the future,” said Saeko Toyama, 33, from Nagoya.

The emperor and the empress will appear at a court banquet to be held in the evening.

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage