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

TOKYO - Japanese Emperor Naruhito will proclaim Tuesday his enthronement before roughly 2,000 guests from home and more than 180 countries in a major ancient-style ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, which will be marked by solemnity and tradition.

Clad in a dark orange robe only worn by emperors on special occasions, the 59-year-old monarch -- who ascended the throne on May 1 following the abdication of his father, former Emperor Akihito, the previous day -- will formally announce his enthronement from the Takamikura imperial throne.

The "Sokuirei Seiden no gi" (Ceremony of the Enthronement of the Emperor) at the Seiden State Hall will start at 1 p.m. in the "Matsu no Ma" state room, with the emperor ascending to the 6.5-meter-high canopied throne. Empress Masako will be seated on the adjacent Michodai throne during the ceremony.

Chamberlains will bring two of the three items of imperial regalia -- the imperial sword and jewel -- which the emperor inherited in May as proof of his ascension to the throne.

As the curtains of the Takamikura open, the emperor will stand and deliver a speech. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will then convey felicitations from the floor of the state room and lead the guests in three banzai cheers wishing for the longevity of the emperor.

The Imperial House Law only states that an enthronement ceremony is held when an imperial succession takes place and does not detail how to stage the rite.

The previous rite held in November 1990 for Emperor Akihito followed the example of the enthronement ceremony of his father, Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.

It was based on "Tokyokurei," a 1909 order on the formalities of the ceremony, although the directive was abolished after World War II.

The government has decided to follow precedent despite criticism that doing so contravenes the postwar constitutional separation of state and religion as well as the sovereignty of the people, as the emperor proclaims his enthronement from a high place as the prime minister stands below.

Emperors formerly wore Chinese formal clothing for ceremonies but adopted traditional Japanese attire during Emperor Meiji's reign (1868-1912), when imperial rule was restored following the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate.

While the emperor will wear a "Korozen no goho" robe, with a design dating back to the ninth century, the empress will be dressed in a layered court kimono during the ceremony.

(File photo from November 1990 of then Emperor Akihito's enthronement ceremony)

Crown Prince Fumihito, the emperor's younger brother, his wife Crown Princess Kiko and other members of the imperial family will also wear traditional Japanese clothing, while the prime minister and other participants are expected to wear morning dress.

Former Emperor Akihito, the first Japanese emperor to relinquish the throne in about two centuries, and former Empress Michiko are not expected to attend the ceremony.

The courtyard will be decorated with flags of varying sizes and spears, while ceremonial officials carrying swords and bows, and drum and gong players will stand in line.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, a total of 174 foreign countries will be represented at the ceremony, up from the 160 represented at the previous enthronement ritual in 1990.

Britain's Prince Charles, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao are expected to be among the guests.

The guests will be seated in rooms and hallways surrounding the courtyard, with monitors set up to enable them to watch the ceremony.

The imperial couple was 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 last weekend.

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.

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