Emperor Naruhito has marked one year since the dawn of the Reiwa era in Japan. On May 1, 2019, he ascended to the throne but he still is searching his own role as a symbol of the nation.
For Japanese Emperor Naruhito, ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne became an event of the unbelievable importance. Naruhito has inherited former Emperor Akihito’s consistent approach of “walking together with the people,” as exemplified by his visits to the areas, most-hit by the typhoon to encourage affected population.
As Asia Nikkei reports, while upholding tradition since ascending to the throne, Emperor Naruhito has also shown his unique presence through his official international duties, using his wealth of experience overseas. Despite all his experience, Naruhito is still searching for his role as a symbol of Japan.
The coronacrisis made the Palace rethink many things and to pick up another approach. Amid outbreak, many royal engagements restricted, so both Emperor and Empress are exploring Naruhito’s role as a symbol “of the unity of the People,” as was stipulated for the monarch in Japan’s constitution following World War II.
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako: a “double authority” approach
In a style reminiscent of Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako sometimes stooped down so their faces were level with those of disaster victims while speaking to them.
The former imperial couple established their role as “symbolic figures who walk together with the people”, by visiting areas hit by earthquakes and other disasters and paying tribute to the war dead at home and abroad.
The current imperial couple both have a great deal of experience internationally. In fact, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako were initially concerned that the issue of “double authority” might arise, with the new and old emperors standing side-by-side.