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The new Japanese Emperor Naruhito has revealed himself to the world


Naruhito, the 126th Emperor of Japan, announced his arrival on the Chrysanthemum throne. Decryption of this traditional rite rooted in Shinto beliefs.

During a sumptuous ceremony, Naruhito officially announced his arrival on the Chrysanthemum throne on October 22nd. AFP PHOTO / JAPANESE GOVERNMENT

The Japanese attended Tuesday, October 22, the proclamation of the accession to the throne of their new emperor, during a sumptuous ceremony. Naruhito, who became the 126th Emperor of Japan since May 1, officially announced his arrival on the Chrysanthemum throne, in traditional court attire, to 2,500 Japanese personalities and foreign representatives. Decryption of this traditional rite rooted in Shinto beliefs.

The moment of revelation to the world of the new Emperor Naruhito and the new empress Masako. A rare moment ...

- Yannsan (@Yann Rousseau)
  • What is "Sokui no rei"?

This is all the ceremonies of accession to the throne of the new emperor, Naruhito. Among them, the ceremony of accession to the throne at the State Hall (Sokuirei Seiden no gi) is held Tuesday. It follows the abdication, on May 1, of his father, Akihito.

It will bring together representatives of 194 countries and international organizations at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Among those present were Prince Charles of England, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In addition to these foreign personalities, the representatives of the administrations, legislative bodies and large companies, nearly 2,500 people, will attend this ceremony whose rituals, related to the Shinto cult, date from the ninth century. At the time of the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), the elements of Buddhism that it included were erased, the prominence of Shinto being asserted.

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The ceremony lasts thirty minutes. The ruler, Naruhito, and his wife, Empress Masako, will dress in traditional imperial uniforms and settle on their respective seats, takamikura and michodai, arranged on special daisies of gold and lacquer.

Empress Masako during the ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on October 22. KYODO NEWS VIA AP

The emperor will read the declaration of his accession to the throne. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will respond with a congratulatory text. Then three banzai (literally "ten thousand years of life") will greet the new sovereign couple, who will then leave the room.

A parade was planned in the streets of the capital. But out of respect for the victims of Typhoon Hagibis, which left 80 dead and caused significant damage, on 12 October, in central and northeastern Japan, it was postponed until 10 November. A banquet organized by Shinzo Abe will follow for foreign guests.

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Other ceremonies will follow, notably, on November 14 and 15, the Daijosai, rite of offering new rice after the induction ceremony.

The totality of the ceremonies should cost nearly 30 billion yen (247 million euros), a funding that is criticized, the Constitution providing for the separation of religious and state. "I wonder if it is appropriate to finance this religious event with public funds," said in November 2018, about the abdication, who is now crown prince, Akishino.

Guests say three banzai (literally "ten thousand years of life") to greet the new sovereign couple on October 22nd. Kimimasa Mayama / AP

  • A change with the previous reign?

In accordance with what he said before ascending the throne, Naruhito remained faithful to his father's pacifist principles. On August 15, the anniversary of the end of the Second World War, he repeated Akihito's words of "deep remorse" for the crimes of militarist Japan.

At the same time, the style seems more relaxed and more modern. "The imperial couple is even closer to the people," said Hideya Kawanishi of Nagoya University.

With his wife, Empress Masako, Naruhito, 59, forms the first imperial couple speaking several languages. The two did not hesitate to break the protocol and speak in English with US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania.

"They are very comfortable, especially she, by the way, who spent much of her childhood abroad," notes Kenneth Ruoff, director of the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Portland (USA). United States) and author of Japan's Imperial House in the Postwar Era, 1945-2019 (Harvard East Asia Monograph, 440 pages, untranslated).

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Similarly, concerns about Masako's state of health seem to be dispelled. The former diplomat, married in 1993 with Naruhito, has long suffered from depression, and appears more smiling. "She did not like her role as Crown Princess. There, she finds what she was trained for, the diplomacy and the service of her country, " analyzes Professor Ruoff.

  • The ceremony is accompanied by an amnesty. Why ?

It's a tradition. On the sidelines of this accession to the throne, 550,000 people guilty of various offenses, including road traffic, will benefit from an amnesty.

This practice dates back to the Nara period (710-784). It showed that the emperor knew how to show mercy. At the end of the 19th century, its principle was incorporated into the legislation governing the imperial institution according to the Meiji Constitution.

A crowd awaits the Emperor's passage outside the Imperial Palace on 22 October. EDGAR SU / REUTERS

Amnesties have not always accompanied imperial events. There were some at the time of Japan's entry into the United Nations in 1956, or the return of Okinawa by the United States in 1972.

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This time, the number of amnestied is reduced. In 1989, 10 million people had benefited at the time of the death of Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989), and in 1990, 2.5 million people had been amnestied for the rise to the throne of Akihito.

There was also one in 1993, on the occasion of the wedding of Naruhito and Masako. Criticism was then raised, as some beneficiaries were politicians convicted of violating the electoral law. But the Abe government has chosen to amnesty some, this time again.

Philippe Mesmer (Tokyo, correspondence)

Source: lemonde

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