Japanese Emperor Naruhito vows to follow father’s lead as head monarch

May 1 (UPI) — Japanese Emperor Naruhito said Wednesday he was “filled with a sense of solemnity” in assuming the responsibility of the nation’s head monarch and vowed to follow his father’s lead and act in accordance to the constitution.

His father, 85-year-old Emperor Akihito, on Tuesday became the first emperor in 200 years to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne.

During his first address to the public as emperor, Naruhito praised his father for having performed “each of his duties in earnest for more than 30 years, while praying for world peace and the happiness of the people and at all times sharing in the joys and sorrows of the people.”

From the Seiden State Hall of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Naruhito said he will be mindful of the path his father walked as emperor, as well as those taken by the emperors before him — and, likewise, will devote himself to self-improvement.

“I also swear that I will act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them,” he said.

Though Naruhito technically became emperor at midnight Tuesday, his crowning was finalized during a ceremony Wednesday morning, during which imperial chamberlains carried state and privy seals as well as a sword and a jewel, two of the nation’s three sacred treasures, into the room and placed them on tables to symbolize the acknowledgment of his succession, Japan Times reported.

Naruhito’s short speech was followed by words from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said the government and the monarch will work together to foster a strong Japan.

“Regarding His Majesty the Emperor as the symbol of the state and the unity of the people, we — amid the turbulence of the international situation — are determined to carve out Japan’s bright future full of peace and hope that we can be proud of, as well as an age where a culture can be born and nurtured as people’s minds are drawn beautifully together,” Abe said.

With the crowning of a new emperor came the start of a new era for Japan. During Akihito’s 30-year rule, Japan lived in the era of “Heisei,” meaning achieving peace. Under Naruhito, Japan will live in the “Reiwa” era, meaning “beautiful harmony.”

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