Japan’s new emperor calls for ‘global peace’

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Japan’s new emperor has given his first public greeting, praying for his people’s health and happiness and calling for global peace.

Thousands of people queued for hours to see Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako appear on the balcony of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace on Saturday.

They will appear six times during the day and are expected to be seen by as many as 100,000 people.

Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne, following the abdication of his father Akihito, 85 – the first abdication in the Japanese royal family for 200 years.

Reading from notes, he told the crowd: “I pray for your health and happiness.

“And I sincerely wish for further development of our nation by going hand in hand with other nations and seeking global peace.”

Japan's new emperor calls for 'global peace'
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Thousands of people queued for hours to see the royal couple

When Naruhito’s father became emperor in 1989, it was after an extended period of mourning for his father Emperor Hirohito, who had served since 1926.

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But for this coronation, the mood has been much more festive.

Japanese clubs held countdowns, there were fireworks, shops held sales to honour the new emperor, and hundreds of couples rushed to register their marriages.

Naruhito, a historian who studied at Oxford University, is the first emperor born after World War Two.

Although Japanese emperors have no political power, he has vowed to follow his father’s pacifist principles.

The constitution, written in 1946, states that the emperor is “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people”.

Akihito, meanwhile, will hold a new title – Emperor Emeritus – but will be fully retired from official duties.