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Japan's Reiwa era

Japan's Emperor Naruhito proclaims enthronement

Carrie Lam, Wang Qishan and Aung San Suu Kyi among guests in ceremony

Japan's Emperor Naruhito at his enthronement ceremony in Tokyo on Oct. 22. (Pool photo)

TOKYO -- Japan's Emperor Naruhito formally proclaimed his accession to the throne on Tuesday as 2,000 guests from 180 countries and international organizations attended the ceremony, taking the latest step in the Imperial transition from his father.

"I pledge hereby that I shall act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always wishing for the happiness of the people and the peace of the world, turning my thoughts to the people and standing by them," Emperor Naruhito said in his proclamation.

"I sincerely hope that our country, through our people's wisdom and unceasing efforts, achieves further development and contributes to the friendship and peace of the international community and the welfare and prosperity of humankind," he added.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally congratulated the emperor and was then joined by other guests in chants of "banzai!"

Naruhito ascended to the throne on May 1 after his father, now the Emperor Emeritus Akihito, stepped down. He wore traditional clothing reserved for the emperor as he delivered a speech from a 6.5-meter-high canopied throne. He was accompanied by Empress Masako.

Tuesday morning ahead of the enthronement ceremony, Emperor Naruhito, clad in a pure-white robe, participated in a ritual in which he informed his ancestors in the Imperial family about the proclamation.

Crown Prince Akishino and other Imperial family members joined foreign guests at the event, which began at 1 p.m. Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko, who have retired from public duties, did not attend.

Guests at the ceremony included the royal couples from the Netherlands and Spain, Prince Charles of the U.K., U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.

Hong Kong's embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam was also among the guests.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center left, and Empress Masako, center right, attend the Court Banquet at the Imperial Palace on Oct. 22 in Tokyo. (Pool photo)

At night, a Court Banquet was held for the heads of Japan's government branches, as well as foreign dignitaries.

The roughly 400 guests included Prince Charles, Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam. The emperor and empress conversed with the guests without translators over Japanese cuisine.

The banquet and an afterparty ended around 11:30 p.m, lasting about four hours in total.

Oct. 22 was designated as a national holiday for this year alone to celebrate the enthronement. A celebratory parade scheduled for that day was postponed to Nov. 10 as the government focused on its response to the damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis earlier this month.

Checkpoints were set up throughout Tokyo in preparation for the royal events, with up to 26,000 police officers deployed to ensure security.

Foreign dignitaries began arriving at Tokyo's Haneda and Narita airports on Monday. Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways canceled a combined 36 flights that day to prevent overcrowding at the airports, and are planning a similar move on Thursday, when many guests are planning to leave.

"There are guests coming in from significantly more countries compared to past international conferences," a Haneda Airport representative said. Dignitaries from 160 countries and organizations attended the last enthronement ceremony, in 1990.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, will host a separate banquet on Wednesday. Several sections of Tokyo's main highways will be closed to regular traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Abe has meetings with roughly 50 key foreign officials, including China's Wang, lined up on the sidelines of the royal events. He met Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday.

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