National

Emperor Naruhito to proclaim enthronement before 2,000 guests in ceremony Tuesday

Kyodo, Staff Report

Clad in a dark orange robe only worn by emperors on special occasions, Emperor Naruhito will proclaim his enthronement Tuesday at the Imperial Palace, offering a speech atop a canopied throne followed by banzai cheers from guests.

The 59-year-old monarch — who ascended the throne on May 1 following the abdication of his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, the previous day — will formally announce his enthronement from an elevated dais within the palace in Tokyo. The event will be attended by some 2,000 guests from Japan and about 180 countries and international organizations.

The Sokuirei Seiden no Gi enthronement ceremony at the Seiden State Hall will start at 1 p.m. in the Pine Chamber (Matsu no Ma) state room, with the emperor ascending to the 6.5-meter-high canopied takamikura throne. Empress Masako will be seated on the adjacent michōdai throne during the ceremony.

Under the current plan, ceremonial officials carrying swords and bows, together with musicians with drums and gongs, will line up outside in the courtyard, which is to be decorated with colorful flags and spears.

In the event of bad weather, the officials may have to move inside the hall while the flags, of varying sizes, may be removed altogether. A high chance of rain has been forecast for Tokyo on Tuesday.

The clothing to be donned by the ceremonial officials and the objects they hold are vulnerable to rain, while the flags may fly away in strong winds. The agency is therefore considering reducing the number of officials and moving them indoors. The decision will be made Tuesday morning, but an agency official said it will be “quite difficult” to judge what extent of rain and winds would require changes to be made.

As the curtains of the takamikura throne open, the emperor will stand and deliver a speech. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will then convey congratulations from the floor of the state room and lead the guests in three banzai cheers wishing for the longevity of the emperor.

The Imperial House Law only states that an enthronement ceremony is held when an imperial succession takes place, and does not detail how to stage the rite. The previous rite, held in November 1990 for Emperor Akihito, followed the example of the enthronement ceremony of his father, Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa. That was based on Tokyokurei, a 1909 order on the formalities of the ceremony. The directive was abolished after World War II.

The government has decided to follow precedent despite criticism that doing so contravenes the postwar constitutional separation of state and religion, as well as the sovereignty of the people, by having the emperor proclaim his enthronement from a high place as the prime minister stands below.

Emperor Emeritus Akihito, the first Japanese emperor to relinquish the throne in about two centuries, and Empress Emerita Michiko are not expected to attend the ceremony.

According to the Foreign Ministry, a total of 183 countries will be represented at the ceremony, up from the 160 represented at the previous enthronement ritual in 1990.

Guests from overseas include King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, King Philippe of Belgium, King Felipe VI of Spain, as well as the U.K.’s Prince Charles and Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The guests will be seated in areas surrounding the courtyard, with monitors set up to enable them to watch the ceremony.

The imperial couple was originally scheduled to appear in a parade following the ceremony, but the event was postponed until Nov. 10 in the aftermath of a deadly typhoon last weekend.

They will ride in a convertible along the approximately 5-kilometer route from the Imperial Palace to the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo in around 30 minutes from 3 p.m.