TOKYO, Nov 10, 2019, Kyodo. Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako paraded in central Tokyo on Sunday as tens of thousands of flag-waving onlookers lined the streets in celebration of the emperor’s enthronement earlier in the year, Kyodo News reported.
The parade started at the Imperial Palace at 3 p.m. and steadily proceeded along a 4.6-kilometer route. Spectators waved and cheered as the smiling imperial couple waved back at them from the back seat of a luxury convertible sedan.
Many people could also be seen reaching out with their cameras and mobile phones trying to capture an image of the emperor, dressed in a tailcoat, and the empress, who donned a long dress and tiara.
The couple’s first parade since their marriage in 1993 was pushed back nearly three weeks in consideration of the hardships people have been suffering in the wake of deadly Typhoon Hagibis last month.
The convertible carrying the 59-year-old emperor and the 55-year-old empress was followed by vehicles, including one carrying Crown Prince Fumihito — the younger brother of the emperor — and his wife, Crown Princess Kiko. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also in the procession.
During the 30-minute event, some 50 vehicles in total forming a 400-meter motorcade passed the Metropolitan Police Department and the main gate of the Diet building before arriving at the couple’s residence in the Akasaka Estate.
Tight security was in place, with police conducting ID checks at buildings along the route and baggage inspections at 29 locations from the morning. Up to 26,000 officers were deployed.
Emperor Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, the day after his father, former Emperor Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in about 200 years.
The black Toyota Motor Corp. Century being used in the parade was picked from a pool of cars from five automakers, taking safety and environmental performance into consideration, among other factors, according to the Imperial Household Agency.
The vehicle, which bears the imperial chrysanthemum crest, is estimated to have cost around 80 million yen ($750,000), including remodeling expenses, according to the agency. It is scheduled to be displayed to the public at the state guest houses in Tokyo and Kyoto.
The emperor officially proclaimed his enthronement on Oct. 22 before some 2,000 Japanese and foreign dignitaries in the “Sokuirei Seiden no gi” ceremony, equivalent to a coronation.
The parade was initially scheduled to take place on the same day as the ceremony but was postponed after the typhoon lashed wide areas, including Tokyo, and left 89 people dead and six people missing. It also flooded tens of thousands of homes.
On Oct. 15, the couple released a statement offering condolences to the victims and wishing for a swift recovery. The government formally decided on the postponement of the parade, a state occasion, three days later.