The Japanese government approved Thursday the outline of a ritual to be held this fall to proclaim the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito before international guests, following the style adopted by his father in 1990 despite a controversy surrounding its nature.
In the "Sokuirei Seiden no Gi" starting at 1 p.m. on Oct. 22, the emperor will give a speech from a 6.5-meter-high canopied throne, known as the Takamikura, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will deliver a "yogoto" congratulatory message and lead guests in three "banzai" cheers to wish for the emperor's longevity.
(Then Japanese Emperor Akihito speaks from the Imperial throne in this file photo taken in November 1990, during the Enthronement Ceremony.)
The ritual, for which 2,500 people will be invited, has previously sparked controversy, with critics claiming the emperor's proclamation from a height above the prime minister violates the constitutional principle that the sovereignty of the nation resides in its people.
Emperor Naruhito ascended the throne on May 1, following the abdication of his father former Emperor Akihito on April 30 -- the first Japanese monarch to do so in about 200 years.
Under the latest plan, the prime minister will lead the cheers on the floor of the "Matsu no Ma" stateroom in the Imperial Palace, following the previous example of Emperor Akihito's enthronement.
"We will endeavor to make sure every ceremonial function is conducted immaculately and without incident," Abe said.
When the ritual was conducted in 1928 for Emperor Hirohito, the grandfather of the current monarch, then Prime Minister Giichi Tanaka led the cheers in the yard of the Kyoto Imperial Palace.
(Photo taken on April 17, 2018, shows the Takamikura throne (L))
Emperor Naruhito will wear a dark orange robe called "Korozen no goho," the design of which dates back to the ninth century and is only worn by emperors during important ceremonies. Abe will be dressed in a tailcoat.
Following the 30-minute ritual, the emperor and Empress Masako will parade in the capital in a convertible luxury sedan for around 4.6 kilometers from 3:30 p.m. and take part in four banquets to be held on the same day and three other days.
The government is considering holding the parade around Oct. 26 instead if it rains on the planned date.
In relation to the previous imperial succession, a number of lawsuits contesting the constitutionality of the rites were filed across Japan.
While all of them were dismissed, a 1995 Osaka High Court ruling said doubts remained over whether the staging of the enthronement ceremony breached Japan's postwar Constitution, which bans the state from engaging in religious activities.
The government also decided on Thursday it will put the Takamikura on public display for 20 days each at the Tokyo National Museum between December and January and at the Kyoto Imperial Palace in March free of charge.