Japans new Emperor Naruhito pardons 500,000 criminals as he takes throne in lavish ancient ceremony in front of royalty

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JAPAN’S new Emperor Naruhito has pardoned 500,000 criminals while ascending the throne in a lavish ancient ceremony in front of the worlds royalty.

Prince Charles was among scores of foreign dignitaries attending the elaborate event at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Emperor Naruhito officially proclaims his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne
Japanese Empress Masako wearing heavy robes and with hair flowing down her back, stood in front of a smaller throne to the side
Japanese Emperor Naruhito at the celebrations, for which Japan declared a national holiday
Prince Charles arrives at the elaborate event in Tokyo, Japan
King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Mathilde of Belgium arrive to attend the Enthronement Ceremony
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara Duterte arrive
Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his wife Monika Babisova also attended

The royal is visiting Japan for two days on behalf of the Queen at the request of the UK Government, which includes a day of engagements to celebrate British-Japanese connections, said Clarence House.

Emperor Naruhito, 59, acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May after his father, Emperor Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch in more than two centuries to abdicate.

But his ascension has only now been formalised after the traditional ceremony this afternoon.

There was a delay to the long-planned celebrations, for which Japan declared a national holiday, because of Typhoon Hagibis, which killed at least 82 people when it tore through 10 days ago.

The event lasted about 30 minutes in front of 2,000 distinguished guests and dignitaries, including King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

At the sound of a gong in the Matsu-no-Ma, or Hall of Pine, the most prestigious room in the Imperial Palace, two courtiers bowed deeply and drew back purple curtains on the Takamikura – a 6.5m (21ft) high pavilion that weighs about eight tonnes.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, leads three “banzai” cheers for Emperor Naruhito as Naruhito proclaimed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands attend the Enthronement Ceremony of Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace on October 22
Japanese Empress Masako arrives at the Kashikodokoro sanctuary

The start of the ceremony was marked by the drawing back of the drapesto reveal Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, 55, dressed in elaborate traditional costumes sitting on two thrones.

Naruhito stoodin front of a simple throne, dressed in burnt-orange robes and a black headdress, with an ancient sword and a boxed jewel, two of the so-called Three Sacred Treasures, placed beside him.

The ritual – held mostly in silence – represented ancient imperial traditions dating back to the 7th century.

Harvard-educated Empress Masako, wearing heavy 12-layered robes and with hair flowing down her back, stood in front of a smaller throne to the side. Such traditional robes can weigh around 15kg (33lbs).

Japan’s Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko walk in a line towards the ceremonial site
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a congratulatory speech before assembled dignitaries
Japan’s Empress Masako was among the more than 2,000 dignitaries gathered at the lavish ceremony
Vatican’s Cardinal Francesco Monterisi at the long-planned celebrations, for which Japan declared a national holiday
Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a congratulatory speech, and led a trio of cheers of banzai, or long life, for the emperor, before a 21-gun salute.

To mark the occasion, Mr Abe’s Cabinet is granting pardons to about 550,000 people convicted of petty crimes like traffic violations.

When Naruhito’s grandfather, Hirohito, died in 1989, more than 10million people were pardoned, and 2.5million were granted amnesties to celebrate Akihito’s enthronement.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito pledged to fulfil his duty as a symbol of the state.

He told those gathered at the event: I sincerely hope that Japan will develop further and contribute to the friendship and peace of the international community, and to the welfare and prosperity of human beings through the peoples wisdom and ceaseless efforts.

Spanish King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia watch as the ceremony unfolds
Empress Masako attends the enthronement ceremony where Emperor Naruhito officially proclaimed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the Imperial Palace
Druk Gyalpo – or ‘Dragon King’ of Bhutan and his wife, Jetsun Pema arrive at the Imperial Palace
People wave to the motorcade outside the Imperial Palace after the enthronement ceremony

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