Japan Ushers in Reiwa Era as Emperor Naruhito Ascends Throne

TOKYO – Japan has ushered in the Reiwa Era with celebrations and rituals as Emperor Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, following the abdication of his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, a day earlier.

Naruhito, 59, took part in two key ceremonies at the Seiden-Matsu-no-Ma (State Room) of the Imperial Palace to mark the occasion.

The first ceremony was the Kenji-to-Shokei-no-Gi where he inherited the Imperial Regalia (a sacred sword and jewel) from his father as proof of his enthronement. He also received the State and Privy Seals.

It was followed by the Sokui-go-Choken-no-Gi rite where he delivered his first speech as emperor.

Naruhito began his speech by saying, “I have hereby succeeded to the Throne pursuant to the Constitution of Japan and the Special Measures Law on the Imperial House Law.”

He added, “When I think about the important responsibility I have assumed, I am filled with a sense of solemnity.”

He also paid tribute to his father.

Looking back, His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus, since acceding to the Throne, performed each of his duties in earnest for more than 30 years, while praying for world peace and happiness of the people, and at all times sharing the joys and sorrows of the people. He showed profound compassion through his own bearing. I would like to express my heartfelt respect and appreciation of the comportment shown by His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan.”

He concluded his speech with a promise to show the same devotion to his people.

“In acceding to the Throne, I swear that I will reflect deeply on the course followed by His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus and bear in mind the path trodden by past emperors, and will devote myself to self-improvement. I also swear that I will act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them. I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world,” he said.

Among the attendees from the Imperial family were Empress Masako, Crown Prince Fumihito and his wife Crown Princess Kiko.

Following the emperor’s speech, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered greetings on behalf of the Japanese people, and promised to “create an era in which people unite their hearts and develop their culture.”

Naruhito is the country’s 126th emperor – the first to be born after World War II. - Words by Florenda Corpuz, Photograph: Screen grab via NHK World