October 22, 2019 / 3:10 AM / a month ago

Some Japanese welcome emperor's proclamation, others shrug

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Emperor Naruhito, 59, the nation’s first monarch born after World War Two, officially proclaimed his enthronement to the world on Tuesday in a centuries-old ceremony attended by hundreds of dignitaries.

Below are some comments by ordinary Japanese people.

NOBUHIKO YABU, 37, ACCOUNTANT

“It is a new era and the emperor is the support for the Japanese people, so I feel very happy on this day,” Yabu said as he stood near a subway station in pouring rain. Asked about his expectations for the new emperor, he said: “Simply by existing, rather than by doing something, the emperor is a support for our hearts.”

YOSHIKAZU ARAI, 74, RETIRED SURGEON

“There is no need to make such a big fuss ... everyone knows it is happening, it’s been reported. There is no need for such an elaborate ceremony. Traffic has been restricted and it is causing inconvenience for ordinary people,” Arai said.

Asked about his hopes for the new emperor, he said he had none. “The emperor is necessary now as a symbol of the people, but at some point, the emperor will no longer be necessary. Things will be just fine without an emperor.”

RYOYA SUZUKI, 25, COMPANY EMPLOYEE

“It’ll be nice if the new emperor will be as kind-hearted as the former emperor and stay close to the people,” Suzuki said in front of the palace. He said he was a car buff and had come especially to see the emperor arrive in his limousine.

TOMOKO SHIRAKAWA, 51, KYOTO RESIDENT

“As he is young and energetic with outstanding leadership, I hope he’ll support the people of Japan, which has faced continuous disasters and typhoons,” said Tomoko Shirakawa, 51, who was waiting in front of the palace.

She said she was visiting Tokyo from the ancient capital of Kyoto, in western Japan, so decided to come to the palace.

JUNKO CHIJIWA, 64, HOUSEWIFE AND DAUGHTER, NATSUKI, 30

“I would like the new emperor to be close to us, the people, and stand with us, just like his father did. I am always moved to see them console disaster victims,” said Chijiwa, who came from her home in Kyushu, southwestern Japan, in hopes of seeing the parade that had been scheduled for after the ceremony.

The parade was cancelled after Typhoon Hagibis caused huge flooding in parts of northeast Japan.

“I was born in the first year of the Heisei era,” said Chijiwa’s daughter, Natsuki, referring to the imperial era that began in 1989, when Naruhito’s father Akihito inherited the throne and ended when he abdicated on April 30.

“So, this is the first time for me to see a new emperor taking the throne. I have been watching the former emperor standing by the people, and I want the new emperor and empress to inherit that spirit.”

Reporting by Linda Sieg, Kwiyeon Ha and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Paul Tait

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