Japan’s emperor greets public in parade marking enthronement

Japan’s emperor greets public in parade marking enthronement

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have waved and smiled from an open car in a motorcade marking his enthronement before hundreds of thousands of people.

Delighted well-wishers cheered and waved small flags and took photos from both sides of packed pavements in Tokyo.

Security was extremely tight with police setting up 40 checkpoints leading to the area.

Selfie sticks, bottles and banners — and even shouting — were not allowed inside the restricted zone.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave to spectators (Jae C Hong/AP)
Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave to spectators (Jae C Hong/AP)

Residents in high-rise apartments along the road were advised not to look down from their windows or balconies.

Naruhito succeeded his father Akihito on May 1 following his abdication, and formally ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in a palace ceremony last month.

The parade started from the Imperial Palace with the Kimigayo national anthem played by the marching band.

Naruhito, wearing a tail coat decorated with medals and carrying a brimmed hat, and Masako, in an off-white long dress and a tiara, kept waving from a Toyota Century convertible.

The car was decorated with the chrysanthemum emblems and the emperor’s flag during the half-hour motorcade on the three-mile route from the palace to the Akasaka imperial residence.

A Japanese well-wisher holds a national flag (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)
A Japanese well-wisher holds a national flag (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Naruhito, sitting on the right side on the slightly raised backseat, constantly turned his head to the right and left, responding to the people cheering from the opposite side of the street as the motorcade slowly moved at a jogger’s speed, led by a fleet of police motorbikes.

The parade was postponed from the original October date due to the recent typhoon that left more than 90 dead and tens of thousands of homes flooded or damaged.

Thousands of people had lined up at checkpoints hours before the parade, trying to secure their place to get the best possible view of the royal couple.

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.

The motorcade makes its way through Tokyo (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)
The motorcade makes its way through Tokyo (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

Naruhito and Masako have been warmly welcomed by the public. Many Japanese people were especially impressed by the couple freely conversing with US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump during their visit weeks after Naruhito’s succession in May, according to palace watchers.

There are expectations that Naruhito, the first emperor with a college degree who also studied abroad, and his Harvard-educated wife Masako, will internationalise the imperial household.

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

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