Japan's emperor greets public in parade marking enthronement

Clay Curtis
November 10, 2019

TOKYO (AP) - Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako waved and smiled from an open vehicle in a parade Sunday marking Naruhito's enthronement as more than 100,000 delighted well-wishers cheered, waved small flags and took photos from packed sidewalks.

From 3 p.m local time the imperial couple will set out in a luxury convertible sedan along a 4.6-kilometer route from the Imperial Palace. Empress Masako appeared to wipe away tears as they passed tens of thousands of adoring fans during the parade that passed the Japan legislative building.

The parade was supposed to take place on the day of the announcement of the accession of the new emperor to the throne on October 22, but due to the tragic consequences of the typhoon Hagibis, which shortly before that claimed the lives of 95 people, it was chose to transfer him to this Sunday.

This was the first parade held by the couple since their 1993 wedding and following the official enthronement ceremony on October 22.

Born into a diplomatic family and educated at Harvard, Empress Masako left behind a promising diplomatic career to marry into the royal family.

Authorities deployed around 26,000 officers and established extensive security measures, including around 40 checkpoints along the route, blockades on nearby roads and restrictions on using metro stations in the area.

The event was one of the final events marking Naruhito's ascension to the throne after his father Akihito earlier this year became the first Japanese emperor in two centuries to abdicate. The government estimated some 119,000 people attended, public broadcaster NHK said.

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Akihito's parade in November 1990 saw some 120,000 people turn out.

Thousands of people had lined up at checkpoints hours before the parade, trying to secure their place to get the best possible view of the royal couple.

Emperor Naruhito expressed gratitude to about 30,000 well-wishers who gathered at the entrance of Imperial Palace in Tokyo on November 9 in a festive event celebrating his accession to the throne.

"I am so happy to see him", she said.

"I hope he will continue to stick with peace, as his father did", Suzuki said, but added that Japan should think seriously about the stability of the monarchy as it faces a shortage of eligible successors.

Conservatives insist on the male-only succession, but Suzuki says he doesn't mind having a female monarch.

"I'm looking forward to see the dress Empress Masako will wear", Ms Hiroko Kikuta, in her 60s, told AFP.

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