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Japan's Emperor Naruhito to announce enthronement in ancient-style ceremony

TOKYO - For Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony on Tuesday, changes may need to be made to the positioning of both officials and items in the event of inclement weather, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

The 59-year-old emperor will declare his enthronement in the "Sokuirei Seiden no gi" -- an ancient ceremony equivalent to a coronation -- from a 6.5-meter-high canopied throne, known as the Takamikura, within the Imperial Palace in Tokyo before some 2,000 guests from Japan and over 180 countries in adjoining hallways.

Under the current plan, ceremonial officials carrying swords and bows, together with drum and gong players, will line up outside in the courtyard, which is to be decorated with colorful flags and spears.

(File photo shows then Emperor Akihito proclaiming his accession in November 1990)

But the officials may have to move inside to the hallways while the flags, of varying sizes, may be removed altogether if the weather is bad. A high chance of rain has been forecast for Tokyo on Tuesday.

The 30-minute ceremony will be conducted from 1 p.m. in the "Matsu no Ma" state room, the palace's most prestigious hall, with the emperor ascending to the decorative throne.

As the curtains of the Takamikura open, the emperor, dressed in traditional Japanese attire, will stand and deliver a speech. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will then convey "yogoto" felicitations from the floor of the state room and lead the guests in three banzai cheers to wish longevity for the emperor.

The clothing to be donned by the ceremonial officials and the objects they hold are vulnerable to rain, while the flags may fly away in strong winds. The agency is therefore considering reducing the number of officials and moving them indoors.

(Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako)

The decision will be made Tuesday morning but an agency official said it will be "quite difficult" to judge what extent of rain and winds would require changes to be made.

The National Police Agency said up to 26,000 police officers will be mobilized for the ceremony and its related events through Thursday.

The imperial couple were originally scheduled to appear in a parade following the ceremony, but the event was postponed until Nov. 10 in the aftermath of a deadly typhoon earlier this month.

They will ride in a convertible along the approximately 5-kilometer route from the Imperial Palace to the Akasaka Imperial Residence in Tokyo in around 30 minutes from 3 p.m. It would be canceled in the event of poor weather, with no other date yet planned.

Dignitaries from 183 countries and international organizations who are expected to attend the ceremony include royalty such as King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, King Philippe of Belgium and King Felipe VI of Spain, as well as Britain's Prince Charles and Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, according to the Foreign Ministry.

(Photo taken on April 17, 2018, shows the Takamikura throne, left, at the Kyoto Imperial Palace.) 

Emperor Naruhito succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, the day after his father former Emperor Akihito abdicated, Japan's first monarch to do so in more than 200 years.

Similarly, a number of European monarchs have also recently relinquished the throne, with Dutch King Willem-Alexander ascending in April 2013 following the abdication of his mother former Queen Beatrix.

Belgian Prince Philippe succeeded to the throne following the abdication of his father King Albert II in July 2013. The Japanese imperial family and the Belgian royal family are on friendly terms, with former Emperor Akihito and the late King Baudouin I having had a close friendship.

Spain's King Felipe VI ascended the throne following his father's abdication in June 2014.

Emperor Naruhito is said to keep in touch by email with the Netherlands' King Willem-Alexander, 52, and a number of other overseas royals who are around the same age.

"They're probably sharing thoughts on matters which only a royal could understand," an aide to the Japanese emperor said.

A court banquet will be held Tuesday evening at the Imperial Palace, where the emperor and Empress Masako will greet the invited guests.

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List of foreign dignitaries expected to attend enthronement ceremony

The following is the lineup of major foreign dignitaries by region who are expected to attend Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony on Tuesday, based on a list provided by the Japanese government. More than 170 countries and international organizations will send representatives to the event.


-- Bhutan

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

-- Cambodia

King Norodom Sihamoni

-- China

Vice President Wang Qishan

-- India

President Ram Nath Kovind

-- Malaysia

King Abdullah

-- Myanmar

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi

-- Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte

-- Singapore

President Halimah Yacob

-- South Korea

Prime Minister Lee Nak Yon

-- Thailand

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

-- Vietnam

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc


-- Australia

Governor-General David Hurley

-- New Zealand

Governor-General Patsy Reddy

-- Tonga

King Tupou VI

North America

-- Canada

Chief Justice Richard Wagner

-- United States of America

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

South America

-- Argentina

Vice President Gabriela Michetti

-- Brazil

President Jair Messias Bolsonaro

-- Chile

Former President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle

-- Colombia

Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Holmes Trujillo

-- Paraguay

Vice President Hugo Velazquez Moreno

-- Peru

Minister of Culture Francisco Enrique Hugo Petrozzi Franco

-- Uruguay

Minister of Foreign Affairs Rodolfo Nin Novoa


-- Austria

President Alexander Van der Bellen

-- Belgium

King Philippe

-- Denmark

Crown Prince Frederik

-- Finland

President Sauli Niinisto

-- France

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy

-- Germany

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier

-- Hungary

President Ader Janos

-- Luxembourg

Grand Duke Henri

-- Monaco

Prince Albert II

-- Netherlands

King Willem-Alexander

-- Norway

Crown Prince Haakon

-- Russia

Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Iliyas Umakhanov

-- Spain

King Felipe VI

-- Sweden

King Carl XVI Gustaf

-- Britain

Prince Charles

-- Vatican

Cardinal Francesco Monterisi

Middle East

-- Afghanistan

President Ashraf Ghani

-- Bahrain

Crown Prince Salman


-- Democratic Republic of the Congo

President Felix Tshisekedi

-- Egypt

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El Anany

-- Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta

-- South Africa

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Candith Mashego-Dlamini

-- Zimbabwe

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Simbarashe Mumbengegwi

International Organizations, others

-- United Nations

Chef de Cabinet, Executive Office of the Secretary-General Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti

-- European Union

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini

-- Palestine

President Mahmoud Abbas