Whatever the future may hold for the new era under Emperor Naruhito, it's clear that the majority of Japanese remain supportive of the imperial family and the sense of national unity the Chrysanthemum Throne provides.

However, the real test of the symbolic strength of the emperor and his family could well be how the imperial household fares when it comes to promoting Japan's image and interests overseas.

While the new emperor and empress will be more than capable of serving as Japan's ultimate ambassadors abroad, they will have to overcome considerable hurdles at home before they can realize their full potential as great diplomats.