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Tens of thousands celebrate Japan emperors enthronement

10 November 2019

Well-wishers are gathering along a central Tokyo street hours before Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are expected to greet them from a royal motorcade under tight security.

Authorities deployed around 26,000 officers and established extensive security measures, including around 40 checkpoints along the route, blockades on nearby roads and restrictions on using metro stations in the area.

Selfie sticks, bottles and banners - and even shouting - were not allowed inside the restricted zone.

Naruhito, 59, officially succeeded his father in May, but a series of ceremonies and rites celebrating his enthronement are being held last month, this month and later this year.

But the government rescheduled the parade after almost 80 people were killed in Typhoon Hagibis, which slammed into Japan in mid October, causing widespread damage.

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Takahiro Suzuki, a 75-year-old retiree who traveled from Chigasaki, in Kanagawa Prefecture, arrived two hours ahead of the parade, but said it was worth it.

In total, 46 vehicles, including official cars and escort motorcycles, were part of the 400-meter long motorcade, which started from the Imperial Palace and passed by iconic locations such as parliament before ending at the official residence in Akasaka.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito, left, and Empress Masako, right, wave during the royal motorcade in Tokyo, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019.

Emperor Naruhito expressed gratitude to about 30,000 well-wishers who gathered at the entrance of Imperial Palace in Tokyo on November 9 in a festive event celebrating his accession to the throne.

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Around 117,000 people attended the enthronement parade in 1990 for Naruhito's father, Emperor Akihito.

The royal couple is popular, and so many people gathered to line the route that some were unable to make it through checkpoints.

"I am so happy to see him", she said. In the previous such ceremony, Rolls-Royce Corniche III was used.

Many Japanese were especially impressed by the couple freely conversing with U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, during their visit weeks after Naruhito's succession in May, according to palace watchers.

Naruhito, who studied at Oxford, is a historian, a viola player and an expert on water transport. She developed "adjustment disorder" after giving birth to the couple's only child, Princess Aiko, and facing pressure to produce a boy in Japan's monarchy.

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"I'm looking forward to see the dress Empress Masako will wear", Ms Hiroko Kikuta, in her 60s, told AFP.

Tens of thousands celebrate Japan emperors enthronement