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Japan’s new emperor embarks on rare parade, greeted by thousands

 

Tens of thousands of flag-waving spectators have cheered Japan’s new
emperor during a rare open-top car parade that was rescheduled after a
deadly typhoon.
Some in the crowd camped overnight to get a prime spot by the palace
for the 30-minute parade featuring Emperor Naruhito and his wife,
Empress Masako.
The event was one of the final events marking Naruhito’s ascension to
the throne after his father, Akihito, earlier this year became the
first Japanese emperor in two centuries to abdicate.
The royal couple emerged from the palace moments before 3.00pm (0600
GMT), with the emperor wearing formal western clothing and the empress
dressed in a long cream gown and jacket, wearing a tiara passed down
by her predecessor.
Security was high for the event, with long queues forming hours before
the parade and thousands of police deployed to search bags and usher
spectators through metal detectors.
Security forces lined the entire length of the route in double rows,
keeping close watch as the slow-moving parade passed, flanked by
police on motorbikes.
In the minutes before the parade began, police at one checkpoint
warned would-be attendees that the area was full.
After the national anthem was played, the royal couple boarded a
specially made car featuring the chrysanthemum imperial logo on the
sides and the royal flag on its bonnet.
The parade of nearly three miles (5km) through central Tokyo was
originally scheduled for 22 October, but the government postponed it
after more than 80 people were killed by Typhoon Hagibis last month.
The royal couple are popular, and so many people gathered to line the
route that some were unable to make it through checkpoints.
Educated at Harvard, Masako left a promising diplomatic career to
marry into the royal family. She has struggled to adjust to cloistered
royal life, and was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder that led to
a scaling back of her public appearances. But she has appeared
confident during the events marking Naruhito’s enthronement.
She won plaudits for her assured performance when the US president,
Donald Trump, became the first foreign leader to meet the new emperor,
winning praise in particular for her ability to converse in fluent
English.
Naruhito officially ascended the throne this year, with an elaborate
and ritual-bound ceremony last month proclaiming his rise before
dignitaries from around the world.

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