Masako is moved to tears


DThey wanted to see the emperor couple smile. So many Japanese had justified their desire to attend Sunday's parade to enthrone the new emperor. Naruhito and Empress Masako then smiled extensively in a bright blue sky, but for the many tens of thousands of spectators along the way, only brief moments remained. After half an hour on the 4.6-kilometer track, the spectacle in downtown Tokyo was already over. The night before, 59-year-old Naruhito had given a brief speech during a celebration of the families hit by the number 19 heavy typhoon. At the latest, the way was clear for the festive parade, which had been postponed in October out of respect for the typhoon victims.

Patrick Welter

Correspondent for business and politics in Japan based in Tokyo.

At the Sakuradamon, the cherry blossom gate of the palace complex, the cheering of the people sounded rather restrained. Although numerous Japanese paper flags had been distributed to the visitors who had stood for hours. But the loud rustling of flags in Japan on such occasions was largely absent. Even the banquet "Bansai – for ten thousand years" remained thin. Too many of the inmates in the back rows were busy recording the historic moment as a video on their cell phones. Less attention was given to Crown Prince Akishino and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who followed the imperial couple in other sedans.

For the National Conservative Abe, the accession to the throne Naruhito and the new imperial era Reiwa – "beautiful harmony" – is also a symbol of a more confident Japan. That became clear even in the details. The new pair of emperors drove in the parade in one of the largest Japanese carmaker Toyota specially made convertible version of the luxury car Century. At the 1990 parade, the then Emperor Akihito still had to content with a British Rolls-Royce.

He saw Masako in a white dress for a moment, said a 51-year-old official at the cherry blossom gate on the street who did not want to give his name. His family had left the man at home in front of the television, but he saw his presence as a personal duty. Thirty years ago, Akihito's accession to the throne, as a student, did not interest him in the whole of the empire. Over the years, he learned that the Emperor was the core of Japan. Land and Emperor had existed together for more than a thousand years, so he wanted to pay tribute to Naruhito.

Naruhito has a big confidence bonus

The festive parade on Sunday was the penultimate act around the imperial emergence of Naruhito. This week is followed by the Daijosai, the actually private Thanksgiving of the Emperor with the sun goddess Amaterasu and other deities, which cost the state to convert 23 million euros. Only with this secret nocturnal ritual Naruhito is finally according to Shinto custom, the spiritual leader of the Japanese.

Criticism of the empire is a marginal phenomenon in Japan. Thirty years ago, when Akihito's accession to the throne, which had abdicated in April, had been different. At that time, the discussion about the war guilt of Akihito's father, the Showa-Tenno Emperor Hirohito, was still virulent. A communist group staged a series of minor terrorist attacks around the accession to the throne. So radical in Japan today is no longer the case, and 26,000 policemen on Sunday ensured that it stays that way. Akihito's pacifist bent and his vehement commitment to peace has not reconciled Japan's communist left with the empire, but at least with the current staff. The approval of the Emperor has grown in the reign of Akihito, and his son Naruhito has a large confidence bonus.

"If the emperor was not there, then it would be empty," said the 86-year-old Shigomi Sato at Kirschblutentor their conviction that Democratic Japan needs the imperial house. Like many other Japanese, the woman noticed that Empress Masako, who became depressed as Crown Princess in the compulsion of court ceremonial, now seemed more relaxed. She looks much happier, said Shigomi Sato. During the car parade, Masako was moved to tears by the cheers of the people. The followers of the imperial family now hope that the Empress can leave her illness behind. "In the old days, Masako was a bit stubborn," said 81-year-old Hideko Nakamura as she stood in line with a friend outside a checkpoint. But the Empress was smart and smart.

Hideko Nakamura wishes Emperor Naruhito to express his own opinion more often and move freely. But in the political system of Japan, the emperor is not the head of state, but only a symbol of the state and the unity of the people. The Japanese will probably have to read between the lines in the future to read political remarks from public statements made by the emperor.

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