Thousands Line up to See Japan's Emperor

  • VOA News

    November 11, 2019 08:19

    Tens of thousands of people lined up on a 5-km stretch in central Tokyo Sunday to catch a rare glimpse of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.

    The motorcade was one of the final events of Naruhito's ascension to the throne.

    Naruhito officially began his reign on the Chrysanthemum Throne in May, when his 85-year-old father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, officially abdicated after four decades, citing failing health. Akihito, who succeeded his father, World War II-era Emperor Hirohito, was the first Japanese emperor to abdicate the throne in 200 years.

    Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave to spectators during the royal motorcade in Tokyo on Nov. 10, 2019. /AP

    The 30-minute parade Sunday began at the Imperial Palace. Some onlookers had camped out overnight in an effort to see the Japanese royalty in a specially-designed Toyota convertible.

    The parade was originally scheduled for last month but was postponed in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis, a massive storm that left 80 dead.

    Security was extremely tight for the royal event. "We're at Disneyland levels of crowding," a policeman said on a loudspeaker minutes before the parade began. "The security check won't finish in time for you to see the parade."

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government chose the name "Reiwa" for Emperor Naruhito's reign, which the prime minister explained as culture created by and nurtured by people who "beautifully care about each other."

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