Supporters celebrate Japan’s emperor, empress during parade

Supporters celebrate Japan’s emperor, empress during parade

Tens of thousands of people gathered on Saturday at a national festival to celebrate the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Naruhito with dancers and pop stars offering jubilant performances.

Security was high for the event, with long lines forming hours ahead of the parade and thousands of police deployed to search bags and move spectators through metal detectors. The use of drones, selfie sticks and tripods is also strictly prohibited.

Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne on May 1 when Emperor Akihito became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate it in about 200 years.

The parade of almost five kilometres (three miles) through central Tokyo was originally scheduled for October 22, but the government postponed it after more than 80 people were killed by Typhoon Hagibis last month.

Naruhito, wearing a tail coat decorated with medals and carrying a brimmed hat, and Masako, in an off-white long dress and wearing a tiara, kept waving from a Toyota Century convertible.

In the minutes before the parade began, police at the Hibiya crossing in central Tokyo warned would-be attendees that the area was full.

Japanese officials estimated the turnout at 119,000, roughly 2,000 more than the parade for Naruhito's father, Emperor Akihito, for his parade when he rose to the thrown in 1990.

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

"The sky is so blue and this is a great day for taking photos, as if it's the heaven's blessing for (the emperor)", said Suzuki, an amateur photographer.

The government acquired the Century for Naruhito's enthronement parade, formally known as the Shukuga-Onretsu-no-gi.

"Emotion welled up and I was so happy that I was about to cry", she said.

Well-wishers hold Japanese national flags as they cheer during a national celebration event to mark Emperor Naruhito's enthronement at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on November 9, 2019. Masako developed "adjustment disorder" after giving birth to the couple's only child, Princess Aiko, and facing pressure to produce a boy in Japan's monarchy, which allows only male heirs.

Despite concerns about her health and skepticism over her ability to fulfill even part of the hugely popular former Empress Michiko's work, Masako has been seen in good health and in smiles as she attended most of her duties recently.

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