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'Beautiful Harmony' Era Dawns in Japan

In silent ceremony, Naruhito receives imperial sword
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2019 3:56 AM CDT
Japan's new Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave from a car on the way to the Imperial Palace to greet Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 1, 2019.   (Chika Oshima/Kyodo News via AP)
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(Newser) – Following in the footstops of his father Akihito in 1989 and grandfather Hirohito in 1926, Naruhito ascended to Japan's Chrysanthemum Throne on Wednesday. The 59-year-old—who officially became Emperor Naruhito at midnight Tuesday after his father's abdication—took possession of the imperial sword and jewel in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo Wednesday morning. The items, along with a mirror, serve as proof of succession, though the ones used in the ceremony were duplicates, with the genuine items kept in shrines, the BBC reports. Naruhito's wife, who is now Empress Masako, and their daughter, Princess Aiko, were not allowed to witness the ceremony because the rules of succession ban female royals from being present at a coronation.

There were no words spoken during the ceremony, which marked the beginning of the new "Reiwa" era, meaning "beautiful harmony," the Guardian reports. In a speech later in the day, Naruhito promised to show the same devotion to his people as his father, who now has the title Emperor Emeritus. "I swear that I will reflect deeply on the course followed by the Emperor Emeritus ... and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them," he said. He was congratulated by world leaders including President Trump, who will become the first world leader to meet the new emperor when he visits Japan later this month. (Read more Japan stories.)

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