National

26,000 police, 40 bag checkpoints: Ultratight security planned for Tokyo enthronement parade

Kyodo

Thousands of police officers will be deployed and dozens of baggage checks will be set up in central Tokyo on Sunday as Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako ride in a convertible along a 4.6-km route from the Imperial Palace to their residence at the Akasaka Estate to mark his enthronement.

The motorcade will leave from the Imperial Palace at 3 p.m. for a parade that was originally scheduled for Oct. 22 following the enthronement ceremony but was pushed back in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis.

In the Sokuirei Seiden no Gi ceremony, the emperor proclaimed his ascension to the chrysanthemum throne before about 2,000 guests, including some 420 dignitaries from about 190 countries and international organizations.

The parade for his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, in November 1990 following his enthronement ceremony attracted about 120,000 roadside spectators, while some 190,000 people observed a parade for Naruhito and Masako after their marriage in 1993.

The procession will pass by the Metropolitan Police Department’s headquarters and the main gate of the Diet building before arriving at Akasaka Palace. It is expected to last about 30 minutes.

Crown Prince Akishino — the younger brother of the emperor — Crown Princess Kiko and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also be part of the motorcade.

The route was chosen for visibility and security reasons. It contains fewer sections under overpasses compared with the parade for Akihito.

The National Police Agency said it will have a maximum of 26,000 police officers on duty during the parade.

A total of 40 baggage inspection checkpoints will be set up at 29 locations along the route, and viewers will be asked to enter iron-fenced booths after passing security checks.

Bringing bottles and cans, as well as drinking and smoking, will be banned inside the booths.

The agency will detail the state of congestion at each booth on its official Twitter account @MPD_koho.

Some streets and subway entrances near the route will be closed during the parade, along with coin lockers at nearby stations. Police will also conduct security checks at entrances of buildings along the route.

The emperor and the empress will be riding in a Toyota Century convertible, which was picked from a pool of cars from five automakers based on safety, environmental performance and other features, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

The convertible sedan has white leather seats and headrests designed so as not to obstruct the view of roadside spectators during the parade.

Including remodeling expenses the black vehicle, which sports the imperial chrysanthemum crest, is estimated to have cost around ¥80 million, according to the agency.

A Rolls-Royce convertible was used during the parade following Akihito’s enthronement ceremony, but it was scrapped after being used for the 1993 parade celebrating the wedding of Naruhito and Kiko.

Following criticism that the limited use of the convertible was “a waste of money,” the government is considering reusing the Century during the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year.

Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne on May 1 after his 85-year-old father abdicated the previous day to become the country’s first monarch to step down in about two centuries.

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