Japan's new Emperor Naruhito ascends Chrysanthemum Throne

Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito (L) and new Empress Masako (2nd-L) attend a ceremony to receive the first audience after the accession to the...

Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito (L) and new Empress Masako (2nd-L) attend a ceremony to receive the first audience after the accession to the throne at the Matsu-no-Ma state room inside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on May 1, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Japan's new Emperor Naruhito formally ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on Wednesday, a day after his father's historic abdication, and vowed to stand with the people as the country begins a new imperial era.

In a brief address, his first to the nation since inheriting the throne, Naruhito vowed to "act according to the Constitution" while "always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them."

Naruhito officially became emperor at the stroke of midnight but the process was formalized in the ritual on Wednesday morning, which was off-limits to female royals — even his wife, Masako.

The emperor entered the Imperial Palace's Pine Room in formal Western clothing and a heavy gold chain of office, accompanied by male family members, including his brother, Akishino.

The 59-year-old was presented with the items his father Akihito relinquished a day earlier: sacred imperial treasures of a sword and a jewel, as well as the seal of state and his personal imperial seal.

The sole woman invitee was the only female member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet.

The ceremony took place on the first day of the new imperial era of Reiwa, meaning "beautiful harmony," which will last throughout Naruhito's reign.

Shortly afterwards, Empress Masako arrived by car at the palace in a diamond-studded tiara to join Naruhito, the nation's 126th emperor.

He said he would "reflect deeply" on the example set by his popular father, Akihito, and that assuming the throne filled him with a "sense of solemnity."

Abe, replying on behalf of the people, said: "We are determined to create a bright future for a proud Japan filled with peace and hope at a time when the international situation is changing dramatically."

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