05/01/2019, 08.33
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Naruhito is the new emperor of Japan

The new Reiwa era begins.  With the abdication ceremony, yesterday the 30-year reign of emperor Akihito ended.  In his first speech, Naruhito outlines his hopes and pays tribute to his father's service.


Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Naruhito is the new emperor of Japan.  The 126th sovereign of the Rising Sun gave his first speech after ascending the throne this morning, expressing his "hope for happiness and peace in the world".  His ascension was formalized earlier, in a ceremony that saw him inherit the imperial treasures.  A new imperial era called Reiwa - which means "beautiful harmony" - has begun and will last throughout his reign.

Naruhito's father, the 85-year-old Akihito, became the first Japanese emperor to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne in over 200 years.  In 2016, Akihito stated that he was no longer able to fulfill his role due to the age and decline of his health.  With the austere and brief ceremony of the Taiirei-Seiden-nogi, the Heisei era and the 30-year reign of the one who is now "emeritus emperor" ended yesterday afternoon.

In a short speech delivered in the Imperial Palace, Emperor Naruhito said he hoped "for the happiness of the people ... the progress of the country and peace in the world".  Naruhito, 59, also expressed gratitude towards his father, in a moved voice when he talked about Akihito's service to the nation.  "[He] performed each of his duties in earnest for more than 30 years," he said. "He showed profound compassion through his own bearing. I would like to express my heartfelt respect and appreciation."

Naruhito, 59, became emperor at midnight today and took part in a ceremony this morning to formalize his ascension to the throne.  The Kenji-to-Shokei-no-gi - or ceremony to inherit the regalia and Imperial seals - started at 10.15 am local time.  The women of the royal family were not admitted.  Not even the empress Masako, wife of Naruhito, was present.  During the function, the emperor received two objects: a sword and a gem.  They are handed down by generations of emperors and are considered the symbols of their power.  The royal women were allowed to participate in the second part of the ceremony, when Naruhito granted his first audience after he had ascended the throne.


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