Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

Thousands gather ahead of rare Japan imperial parade

Japan emperor greets at celebration hosted by conservatives Japan imperial couple rides through Tokyo in grand enthronement parade
Patty Aguilar | 10 November, 2019, 20:25

A procession to celebrate Japanese Emperor Naruhito's enthronement drew crowds of spectators to central Tokyo on Sunday afternoon, marking the last ceremonial event in his ascension to the throne.

Authorities deployed around 26,000 officers and established extensive security measures, including around 40 checkpoints along the route, blockades on nearby roads and restrictions on using metro stations in the area. The use of drones, selfie sticks and tripods is also strictly prohibited.

Akihito's abdication this year brought Naruhito to the throne and marked the start of the Reiwa era.

The royal couple rode in a Toyota Century convertible as it traveled to the Akasaka Imperial Residence.

The parade was originally due to take place on October 22, when the emperor officially proclaimed his enthronement before dignitaries from about 190 countries, but it was postponed as Japan grappled with the aftermath of a devastating typhoon.

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Yoko Mori, 64, lined up from 10: 00 am to secure a spot, travelling from Saitama outside Tokyo.

The royal couple emerged from the palace moments before 3: 00 pm (0600 GMT), with the Emperor wearing formal Western clothing and the Empress dressed in a long cream gown and jacket, wearing a tiara passed down by her predecessor.

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Educated at Harvard, Masako left behind a promising diplomatic career to marry into the royal family.

Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako proclaim the enthronement to the world in a ceremony called Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi at the Imperial Palace.

"I am so happy to see him", she said.

Conservatives insist on the male-only succession, but Suzuki says he doesn't mind having a female monarch.

But she has appeared confident during the events marking Naruhito's enthronement.

The parade was the first since Naruhito and Masako's marriage in June 1993, just three years after their parents celebrated their enthronement in a Rolls Royce. Many Japanese were especially impressed by the couple freely conversing with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump during their visit weeks after Naruhito's succession in May, according to palace watchers.

Naruhito, who studied at Oxford, is a historian, a viola player and an expert on water transport.

Despite concerns about her health and skepticism over her ability to fulfill even part of hugely popular former Empress Michiko's work, Masako has been seen in good health and in smiles when carrying out her official duties recently.

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