JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

In ancient throne ritual, Japanese emperor vows to fulfil duty

In ancient throne ritual, Japanese emperor vows to fulfil duty

Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 15:15 GMT+7
In ancient throne ritual, Japanese emperor vows to fulfil duty
This handout photo taken and released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan on October 22, 2019 shows Japan's Emperor Naruhito walking to Kashikodokoro sanctuary to report the proclamation of his ascension to the throne to sun goddess in the ancient royal dynasty during a ritual at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito formally proclaimed his ascendancy to the throne on Tuesday in a centuries-old ceremony attended by dignitaries from more than 180 countries, pledging to fulfil his duty as a symbol of the state.

Naruhito became emperor and his wife Masako became empress on May 1 in a brief ceremony, but Tuesday’s “Sokui no Rei” was a more elaborate ritual at the royal palace in which he officially announced his change in status to the world.

“I swear that I will act according to the constitution and fulfil my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” the 59-year-old declared, his voice slightly hoarse, in front of about 2,000 guests, including Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

“I sincerely hope that Japan will develop further and contribute to the friendship and peace of the international community, and to the welfare and prosperity of human beings through the people’s wisdom and ceaseless efforts.”

The first Japanese emperor born after World War Two, Naruhito acceded to the throne when his father, Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries after worrying that advancing age might make it hard to perform official duties.

The long-planned celebrations, for which Japan declared a national holiday, were tempered by Typhoon Hagibis, which killed at least 82 people when it tore through Japan ten days ago, and pouring rain early on Tuesday.

A public parade was postponed until next month to allow the government to devote its attention to the typhoon clean-up, while Tuesday’s inclement weather forced the palace to scale back the number of courtiers in ancient robes taking part in the courtyard ceremony although the skies cleared as it began.

This handout photo taken and released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan on October 22, 2019 shows Japan's Emperor Naruhito walking to Kashikodokoro sanctuary to report the proclamation of his ascension to the throne to sun goddess in the ancient royal dynasty during a ritual at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan.
This handout photo taken and released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan on October 22, 2019 shows Japan's Emperor Naruhito walking to Kashikodokoro sanctuary to report the proclamation of his ascension to the throne to sun goddess in the ancient royal dynasty during a ritual at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan.
Japan's Emperor Naruhito departs the Imperial Palace after his enthronement ceremony in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Japan's Emperor Naruhito departs the Imperial Palace after his enthronement ceremony in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Japan's Emperor Naruhito arrives at the Imperial Palace on the day he is formally enthroned, in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Edgar Su
Japan's Emperor Naruhito arrives at the Imperial Palace on the day he is formally enthroned, in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Japan's Empress Masako arrives at the Imperial Palace on the day Emperor Naruhito is formally enthroned, in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Japan's Empress Masako arrives at the Imperial Palace on the day Emperor Naruhito is formally enthroned, in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
People react as Japan's Emperor Naruhito departs the Imperial Palace after his enthronement ceremony in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Edgar Su
People react as Japan's Emperor Naruhito departs the Imperial Palace after his enthronement ceremony in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su

“Banzai” cheers, 21-gun salute

At the sound of a gong in the Matsu-no-Ma, or Hall of Pine, the most prestigious room in the palace, two courtiers bowed deeply and drew back purple curtains on the “Takamikura” - a 6.5-meter (21 feet) high pavilion that weighs about eight tons.

Naruhito was revealed standing in front of a simple throne, dressed in burnt-orange robes and a black headdress, with an ancient sword and a boxed jewel, two of the so-called Three Sacred Treasures, placed beside him.

Fifty-five-year-old Harvard-educated Empress Masako, wearing heavy 12-layered robes and with hair flowing down her back, stood in front of a smaller throne to the side.

Such traditional robes can weigh around 15 kilograms (33 pounds).

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a congratulatory speech before assembled dignitaries including Crown Prince Akishino, the emperor’s younger brother, and his family, all adorned in brightly-coloured robes.

Other guests included U.S. Transport Secretary Elaine Chao and Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Abe led a trio of cheers of “banzai”, or “long life”, for the emperor, before a 21-gun salute.

Naruhito had earlier entered the palace to cheers from waiting fans before reporting his enthronement to his imperial ancestors at three shrines on the palace grounds, dressed in pure white robes.

“As he is young and energetic with outstanding leadership, I hope he’ll support the people of Japan, which has faced continuous disasters and typhoons,” said Tomoko Shirakawa, 51, who was among the crowds of umbrella-clutching citizens packing the area in front of the palace.

A court banquet is due to be held on Tuesday evening, before Naruhito and Masako host a tea party for foreign royalty on Wednesday afternoon.

The government pardoned about half a million people convicted of petty crimes, such as traffic violations, to mark the day.

Although the public parade was postponed until Nov. 10, NHK public TV said there were 26,000 police providing security on Tuesday.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito leaves the ceremony hall after proclaiming his enthronement at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 22 October 2019. Kimimasa Mayama/Pool via REUTERS
Japanese Emperor Naruhito leaves the ceremony hall after proclaiming his enthronement at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 22 October 2019. Kimimasa Mayama/Pool via REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attend a ceremony to proclaim Emperor Naruhito's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako attend a ceremony to proclaim Emperor Naruhito's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool
Japan's Empress Masako makes her appearance during a ceremony to proclaim Emperor Naruhito's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool
Japan's Empress Masako makes her appearance during a ceremony to proclaim Emperor Naruhito's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool
Japan's Crown Prince Akishino arrives for a ceremony to proclaim Emperor Naruhito's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool
Japan's Crown Prince Akishino arrives for a ceremony to proclaim Emperor Naruhito's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows in front of Emperor Naruhito during a ceremony to proclaim his enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows in front of Emperor Naruhito during a ceremony to proclaim his enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Britain's Prince Charles arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prince Charles arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Empress Masako leaves the state room after a ceremony to proclaim the emperor's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019 Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via REUTERS
Empress Masako leaves the state room after a ceremony to proclaim the emperor's enthronement to the world, called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via REUTERS

Imperial family future

Naruhito is unusual among recent Japanese emperors since his only child, 17-year-old Aiko, is female and as such cannot inherit the throne under current law.

Unless the law is revised, the future of the imperial family for coming generations rests instead on the shoulders of his nephew, 13-year-old Hisahito, who is second in line for the throne after his father, Crown Prince Akishino.

Naruhito’s grandfather, Hirohito, in whose name Japanese troops fought World War Two, was treated as a god but renounced his divine status after Japan’s defeat in 1945.

Emperors now have no political authority.

Though many Japanese welcomed the enthronement ceremony, some shrugged it off as a nuisance.

There was at least one protest with about two dozen people taking part, a small objection compared to the sometimes violent protests when Akihito was enthroned.

“There is no need for such an elaborate ceremony. Traffic has been restricted and it is causing inconvenience for ordinary people,” said Yoshikazu Arai, 74, a retired surgeon.

“The emperor is necessary now as a symbol of the people, but at some point, the emperor will no longer be necessary. Things will be just fine without an emperor.”

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie arrive at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie arrive at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender attend the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender attend the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
China's Vice President Wang Qishan arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
China's Vice President Wang Qishan arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam arrives to attend the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam arrives to attend the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
Norway's Crown Prince Haakon arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Norway's Crown Prince Haakon arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Vatican Cardinal Francesco Monterisi arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Vatican Cardinal Francesco Monterisi arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
India's President Ram Nath Kovind arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
India's President Ram Nath Kovind arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrive at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrive at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives to attend the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives to attend the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria arrive at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019.  Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria arrive at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, October 22, 2019. Koji Sasahara/Pool via REUTERS
Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema arrive for the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema arrive for the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS
Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko arrive at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko arrive at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike arrives at the ceremony site where Japan's Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike arrives at the ceremony site where Japan's Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Princess Mako arrives at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Princess Mako arrives at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso arrives at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso arrives at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga arrives at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga arrives at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Princess Kiko and other members of the royal family arrive at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
Japan's Princess Kiko and other members of the royal family arrive at the ceremony site where Emperor Naruhito will report the conduct of the enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji

Reuters / Tuoi Tre News

More

Read more

Dust in the air eased slightly in 2023: UN

The amount of dust in the air eased slightly in 2023, the United Nations said Friday, warning that poor environmental management was fuelling sand and dust storms

21 hours ago
;

Photos

VIDEOS

‘Taste of Australia’ gala dinner held in Ho Chi Minh City after 2-year hiatus

Taste of Australia Gala Reception has returned to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnamese woman gives unconditional love to hundreds of adopted children

Despite her own immense hardship, she has taken in and cared for hundreds of orphans over the past three decades.

Latest news