TOKYO – Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito gave on Saturday his first public address in this role from the balcony of the imperial palace, in which he stressed the need to work toward achieving world peace.
Naruhito, 59, ascended to the throne on Wednesday, a day after his father, Akihito, abdicated. He was the first emperor to step down from the throne in more than two centuries.
In a very brief message – as is customary on these occasions – Naruhito expressed his desire for “Japan and the international community to come together in pursuing world peace and further development.”
Naruhito, who spoke from behind the bulletproof glass that protects the balcony, was accompanied by Empress Masako and other members of the imperial family. His father, the emperor emeritus, and his mother, Michiko, were not present.
The ceremony, which will be repeated five more times throughout the day, was attended by thousands of people, most of them waving Japanese flags.
Many spectators had arrived at the imperial palace complex – located within a huge public park – hours earlier to stand in line and patiently wait for the emperor’s first appearance.
Naruhito’s ascension marks the beginning of a new era in Japan, dubbed “Reiwa,” which roughly translates to “beautiful harmony.”
According to semi-mythological tradition, Naruhito is now the 126th consecutive Japanese emperor.
Japan’s monarchy is generally considered to be the longest-lived continuous hereditary royal dynasty in the world.