Japan emperor enthroned in ancient-style ceremony


It is the prince's fifth visit to Japan, including his 1990 trip to attend the enthronement ceremony of Naruhito's father, Emperor Akihito.

"Storm-like rain and winds came to a stop right before the ceremony, and the sun came out".

The short ceremony, which some critics say was largely meant to allow Abe's ultra-conservative government to win public support, was marked by extraordinary contrasts: the rhythmic shuffle of dozens of court dignitaries' long, stiff, antiquated robes as they brushed over mats leading to the throne room, and the thunder of cannon salutes reverberating through the palace.

Empress Masako will also take part in the ceremony, gaining her own throne while wearing 12-layered robes and an elaborate hairstyle. Such traditional robes can weigh around 15 kilogrammes (33 pounds).

When the ceremony was complete, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cried "Banzai!"

Guests at the ceremony included the royal couples from the Netherlands and Spain, Prince Charles of the United Kingdom, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.

Emperor Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on Tuesday, proclaiming himself Japan's 126th emperor as the audience shouted "banzai" to wish him a long and prosperous reign.

Naruhito had entered the palace to cheers from admirers 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 Ms Tomoko Shirakawa, 51, who was waiting in front of the palace.

Japan made the day a national holiday and pardoned around 550,000 petty criminals on the occasion, in the first amnesty since the emperor's 1993 marriage to the empress, a Harvard and Oxford-educated former diplomat.

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

Charles has travelled to Japan without his wife Camilla, who has a fear of flying and therefore, doesn't always accompany her husband on overseas visits.

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

Japan's Kyodo news agency said that security was tight with up to 26,000 police officers mobilised from across the country for the enthronement ceremony.

The guests then moved to the Shunju-no-Ma Grand Hall and chatted over aperitifs with Crown Prince and Princess Akishino, and other Imperial family members.

"The Emperor before that was the grandfather of the current Emperor, Hirohito who was Emperor of the Japanese for a large part of the 20th century, so it was a truly historic moment and dignified, but also unpretentious at the same time". "Traffic has been restricted and it is causing inconvenience for ordinary people", said Yoshikazu Arai, 74, a retired surgeon.

Emperor Akihito officially abdicated the throne during a ceremony in his final address to the people. "Things will be just fine without an emperor".