Tokyo [Japan]: The 126th Emperor of Japan, in his public address on the first day of his reign, promised to “reflect deeply on the course followed” by his father Emperor Emeritus Akihito who abdicated on Tuesday, bringing an end to the 30-year-old Heisei era.
The new era under Emperor Naruhito’s rule will be known as “Reiwa,” comprising the words “Rei”, means “good fortune” and “Wa” that can be translated into “peace” and “harmony”.
Akihito is the first Japanese emperor to abdicate since Kokaku in 1817. Akihito’s abdication had to be approved by parliament.
“Looking back, His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus, since acceding to the throne, performed each of his duties in earnest for more than 30 years, while praying for world peace and happiness of the people, and at all times sharing in the joys and sorrows of the people,” NHK quoted Emperor Naruhito as saying, expressing gratitude to his father.
“In acceding to the Throne, I swear that I will reflect deeply on the course followed by His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus and bear in mind the path trodden by past emperors, and will devote myself to self-improvement,” he stated as people all across Japan ushered in the Reiwa imperial era with celebrations on May 1.
“I also swear that I will act according to the Constitution and fulfil 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. I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world,” he added.
The 59-year-old Emperor took part in two key ceremonies to mark his accession to the Chrysanthemum throne. The first saw the sacred sword and jewel being passed down to the erstwhile Crown Prince, symbolising that he has inherited the Imperial Regalia from his father. The Imperial Insignia is proof of an Emperor’s status in Japan.
He then met with the representatives of the people, including the Prime Minister, the Heads of both chambers of the Diet, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and local government leaders. The Emperor then gave his first speech since acceding to the throne.
The Emperor Emeritus had indicated his desire to abdicate in a rare address made to the Japanese populace around three years ago, citing concerns related to his advanced age. The Diet enacted a law to specifically allow him to retire, as there was no provision in Japanese law for him to stand down.
The three-decade-long Heisei period started on January 8, 1989, when Emperor Akihito acceded the throne following his father, Emperor Hirohito’s, death. This is the first time Japan’s modern history that the country has both an Emperor and an Emperor Emeritus.
Even though the reigning monarch has a 17-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko, traditional imperial rules bar her from acceding to the throne after her father’s reign. Her 12-year-old cousin, Prince Hisahito of Akishino, who is Emperor Emeritus Akihito’s only grandson and Emperor Naruhito’s nephew, is now the second-in-line.