Naruhito Takes Throne as Japan’s First New Emperor in 30 Years

(Bloomberg) –Japan completed the months-long coronation of Emperor Naruhito in an elaborate ceremony in Tokyo, as assembled global royalty and political leaders looked on.

Clad in layers of intricately patterned silk, Naruhito and his consort, Empress Masako, assumed their seats in a ritual that began at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The emperor and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were expected to both give speeches at the ceremony, at which about 180 countries will be represented.

The ceremony, steeped in centuries of tradition, includes the presentation of the sacred sword and jewel that are part of the imperial regalia, which has been passed through generations of monarchs who have ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne. A parade through the capital in an open-topped limousine set for Tuesday has been put off until Nov. 10 out of respect for the victims of a typhoon earlier in October, which has killed at least 78 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Naruhito and Masako will host the first in a series of formal banquets at the palace on Tuesday evening, where traditional court music and dance will be performed. Abe will also host a banquet at a hotel the following day.

Naruhito, 59, is by the Imperial Household Agency’s count, Japan’s 126th emperor. His grandfather Hirohito, was the last emperor designated by tradition to be a living god. After Japan’s defeat in 1945, the U.S. kept Hirohito on the throne to build unity, but made the position of emperor one for a mortal who had no say in state policy.

Royalty such as Britain’s Prince Charles are those in Tokyo for the festivities. Unlike some royal households in other parts of the world, Japan’s postwar imperial family has mostly dodged major scandals.

Naruhito inherited the throne after his father, Akihito, became the first Japanese emperor in two centuries to abdicate, citing poor health. A new emperor means a new era in the Japanese calendar, so 2019 has also been dubbed the first year of Reiwa, which the government translates as “beautiful harmony.” Akihito reigned from 1989 for three decades.

Naruhito was the first Emperor to be educated in the West, spending two years at the University of Oxford. One of the imperial couple’s first tasks after his reign began in May was to host U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania on a state visit.

Next in line to the throne is Naruhito’s younger brother, Akishino, 53, followed by Akishino’s son, Hisahito, 13.

–With assistance from Tsuyoshi Inajima.