A mirror, a sword and a jewel: Japan prepares for enthronement

Guests from more than 190 countries expected to attend ceremony for Emperor Naruhito that will be followed by parade.

    Crowds of well-wishers greeted the new Emperor Naruhito, centre left, and Empress Masako, centre right, on their first public appearance after ascending the throne. After he is officially enthroned on Tuesday, Naruhito will go on a parade around Tokyo. [Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo]
    Crowds of well-wishers greeted the new Emperor Naruhito, centre left, and Empress Masako, centre right, on their first public appearance after ascending the throne. After he is officially enthroned on Tuesday, Naruhito will go on a parade around Tokyo. [Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo]

    Japan's Emperor Naruhito will proclaim his enthronement on Tuesday in a centuries-old ceremony attended by some 2,500 people, including heads of state and other dignitaries from nearly 200 countries.

    Naruhito, 59, ascended to the throne in May after his father, Akihito, became the first monarch to abdicate in two centuries.

    Below are the main events planned for October 22, which has been made a one-off national holiday.

    Japan Naruhito
    Japan's Emperor Naruhito, flanked by Empress Masako, ascended the throne in May, A series of ceremonies are being held throughout the year to mark the occasion. [Imperial Household Agency of Japan via Reuters]

    Enthronement Ceremony

    Naruhito, like his father nearly three decades ago, will wear a traditional robe and headdress to the ceremony that will start at 1.00 pm (0400 GMT) at the Imperial Palace's Matsu no ma, or Hall of Pine, the most prestigious space in the palace.

    He will declare his enthronement from the "Takamikura" - a 6.5 metre (21 feet) high pavilion that weighs about 8 tonnes - with a sword and a jewel, two of the so-called Three Sacred Treasures, placed beside him.

    Together with a mirror called Yata-no-Kagami, which is kept at the Ise Grand Shrine, the holiest site in Japan's Shinto religion, the ancient sword and jewel comprise the regalia that symbolises the legitimacy of the emperor.

    Akihito pledged during the previous ceremony in 1990 to observe Japan's pacifist constitution and fulfil his duty as a symbol of the state and of the unity of the people.

    Naruhito's proclamation will be followed by a congratulatory address from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe will then lead three cheers for the new emperor, bringing the 30-minute ceremony to a close.

    About 16.1 billion yen ($148 million) has been earmarked for succession-related ceremonies throughout the year, including the enthronement ceremony.

    Japan Akihito
    Emperor Akihito pledges to observe the Constitution of Japan during the ceremonies to mark his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 1990. Naruhito is expected to wear a traditional robe and headdress like his father. [Handout via Reuters]

    Diplomacy

    Abe has said representatives from more than 190 countries and international organisations are expected to join the celebration.

    Guests include Britain's Prince Charles, who along with Princess Diana also attended Akihito's enthronement ceremony, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and Elaine Chao, the United States Transportation Secretary.

    Domestic media said Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan were also expected to attend, and that Abe would later hold talks with some 50 foreign leaders.

    Parade

    The enthronement ceremony will be followed by a parade through central Tokyo in which Naruhito and Empress Masako, his Harvard-educated, forner diplomat wife, will ride in an open-top Toyota Century limousine through the city for half an hour from 3.30pm.

    Some 120,000 people, many waving national flags, lined the route to cheer Akihito and Empress Michiko as they passed by in a Rolls-Royce Corniche III after his enthronement.

    Japan Naruhito
    Japan's Emperor Naruhito attends a ritual called Chokushi-Hakken-no-gi shortly after he ascended the throne in May. [Imperial Household Agency of Japan via Reuters]

    Banquets

    A court banquet will get under way from 7.20pm with foreign dignitaries as well as the representatives of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Japanese government and their spouses.

    Naruhito and Masako will host a tea party for foreign royalty the following afternoon to show their gratitude.

    Abe will then host a banquet for about 900 foreign leaders and other delegation members at Tokyo's Hotel New Otani in the evening. 

    Pardons

    The Asahi Shimbun daily reported on Wednesday that the government had told the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that it planned to grant pardons to about 550,000 people to mark Naruhito's enthronement.

    Another newspaper, the Mainichi Daily, said earlier this month the planned pardon is targetted at petty criminals, and they will have restrictions on their legal rights lifted.

    In Japan, those who are convicted and fined are banned from obtaining physicians', nurses' and some other licences for five years. 

    Japan Naruhito
    The Imperial chrysanthemum emblem is displayed on the body of a custom convertible Toyota Century. Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will travel in the car for a parade through the streets of Tokyo after the enthronement ceremony. [Issei Kato /Reuters]

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency