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October 23, 2019

Japan’s emperor completes enthronement in ancient ceremony


October 23, 2019

TOKYO: Japan’s Emperor Naruhito completed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum throne on Tuesday in a ceremony steeped in the traditions and grandeur of a monarchy that claims 2,000 years of history.

The rituals cemented a transition that began with his father’s abdication earlier this year, and drew royalty and political leaders from around the world. A public parade for the event was postponed after a deadly typhoon, but the government went ahead with the granting of pardons for more than half a million people convicted of minor offences including traffic violations.

The main event took place in the Imperial Palace’s Pine Room, where royal attendants drew back purple curtains hanging from two heavily adorned structures housing the imperial thrones, revealing the emperor and empress standing inside.

"I hereby declare my enthronement at home and abroad," Naruhito said, dressed in a voluminous draped robe topped with a copper overcoat. Empress Masako, a Harvard-educated former diplomat, stood silently before her throne in a similar, smaller structure, wearing a multi-layered kimono and a highly stylised hairpiece.

Naruhito pledged to "pray for the happiness of Japanese people and world peace" and "fulfil my duty as the symbol of Japan and of the unity of the people of Japan." In the evening, he hosted around 400 of the assembled royalty and dignitaries to a sumptuous banquet at the palace where traditional Japanese court music was played and the guests were allowed to have closer views of the throne.

According to local media, the dinner was Japanese style and the menu included steamed abalone, smoked salmon, asparagus wrapped with beef, "chawanmushi" steamed egg custard dish and clear soup with Japanese lobster and matsutake mushrooms.

Standing before him, flanked by royal family members also wearing heavily decorated traditional robes, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the people of Japan would "respect your highness the emperor as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the Japanese people."

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