Japan Pardons 550K as Emperor Takes Throne

'An opportunity for the citizens of Japan to cleanse their spirit and start anew'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2019 7:54 AM CDT
Japan Pardons 550K as Emperor Takes Throne
Japanese Empress Masako leaves the ceremony hall after Emperor Naruhito proclaimed his enthronement at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019.   (Kimimasa Mayama/Pool Photo via AP)

Japan celebrated the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito on Tuesday—and around 550,000 people classed as petty criminals had plenty of reason to cheer. The Japanese government announced ahead of Tuesday's ceremony at Tokyo's Imperial Palace that more than half a million pardons had been granted as "an opportunity for the citizens of Japan to cleanse their spirit and start anew," the Japan Times reports. Around 80% of those affected were involved in traffic accidents or other traffic violations, including some that caused death, though the government says people sentenced to prison terms will not be pardoned.

Naruhito officially became emperor in May, but Tuesday's ceremony, in which he read out a proclamation from the Takamikura throne, marked his formal enthronement, the BBC reports. He wore a traditional robe only worn by emperors on special occasions while his wife, Empress Masako, was on a smaller throne, wearing 12 layers of robes. The Guardian reports that there had been plans for Naruhito and Masako to drive around Tokyo in an open-top car after the ceremony, but the parade was postponed after Typhoon Hagibis, which killed more than 80 people earlier this month. (Read more Emperor Naruhito stories.)

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