Emperor Naruhito looks back on emperors of the past before turning his eyes to the nation’s future.

Japan was up late on the night of April 30. With Emperor Akihito having officially abdicated the throne earlier in the day, people across the nation gathered to mark the end of the 30-year Heisei era, which officially came to a close at the stroke of midnight.

The first morning of the new Reiwa era was once again a busy time for the imperial family, however, who again gathered in the Matsu no Ma (Pine Hall) of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, where the abdication ceremony had taken place just a day before, but this time to officially declare Akihito’s son, Naruhito, Japan’s new emperor.

Standing in the same spot where his father, whose title now shifts to Emperor Emeritus, stood less than 24 hours earlier, Emperor Naruhito made his first official statement as Japan’s head monarch:

“In accordance with the constitution of Japan and the Imperial Household Law, I now succeed the position of Emperor of Japan, and solemnly accept the responsibilities entrusted to this position.

Looking back on the 30-year reign of the Emperor Emeritus, I see how he always desired peace in the world and happiness for the people of the nation, and that he faithfully carried out his duties, sharing the joys and sorrows of the people at all times with a strong spirit. I wish to express my deep respect and gratitude for the way in which he served as a symbol of the nation.

As I succeed the position of emperor, I reflect on the progress made by the Emperor Emeritus, and the actions of Japanese emperors throughout history. I will put them in my heart as I strive to better myself while always thinking of the people and remaining close to them. In accordance with the constitution, I pledge to carry out my duty as a symbol of Japan and the Japanese people, and earnestly hope for the happiness of the people, the continued growth of the country, and peace in the world.”

Many of Emperor Naruhito’s sentiments echoed those of his father’s in the Emperor Emeritus’ abdication speech, particularly the desire for not just the happiness of the Japanese people, but for peace throughout the world, which seems like a fitting goal for Reiwa, the era named as a wish for beautiful harmony.

Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun
Top image: Wikipedia/Kakidai
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