President Halimah to witness Emperor Naruhito's enthronement

In a photo taken on May 4, well-wishers wave Japanese flags as Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako make their first public appearance after ascending to the throne along with other members of the royal family at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
In a photo taken on May 4, well-wishers wave Japanese flags as Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako make their first public appearance after ascending to the throne along with other members of the royal family at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.PHOTO: AFP

Singapore President Halimah Yacob will be among the world's dignitaries gathering in Tokyo to witness the formal enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito tomorrow.

She will be among the 2,000 dignitaries from 174 countries, including political leaders and royal families, attending the Sokuirei Seiden no Gi ceremony, at which the Emperor formally declares his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She will also attend a court banquet at the Imperial Palace tomorrow.

The guest list includes Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, as well as Asean leaders such as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Royal attendees include Britain's Prince Charles and Belgium's King Philippe.

Emperor Naruhito, 59, ascended the throne on May 1, marking the dawn of the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) imperial era. This came a day after his father Akihito, 85, abdicated.

The half-hour main event tomorrow - at which Emperor Naruhito will deliver a speech and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will convey felicitations - is being held for the first time since November 1990, when Akihito formally declared his ascension to the throne.

Singapore's representative at the time was then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Tomorrow's ceremony is part of a series of rituals that will last until April next year.

A 4.6km procession was also planned tomorrow for Emperor Naruhito to meet the public, but this has been postponed to Nov 10 in the light of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Hagibis.

 
 
 
 

Emperor Naruhito's mother, Empress Emerita Michiko, turned 85 yesterday in muted fashion, with celebrations also shelved in respect of the typhoon's victims.

The gathering of world leaders means that this will be a huge diplomatic week for Mr Abe, who is expected to hold bilateral talks with around 50 leaders, including Madam Halimah on Wednesday.

Most of these meetings are likely to be congratulatory, but all eyes will be on his talks with China's Mr Wang on Wednesday and South Korea's Mr Lee on Thursday, given Japan's fraught ties with China and South Korea.

Madam Halimah, who arrives in Tokyo today, will first attend a dinner reception with Singaporeans based in Japan, said Singapore's Foreign Ministry in a statement yesterday.

On Wednesday, she will meet members of the Japan-Singapore Parliamentary Friendship League and visit NEC's Future Creation Hub, an interactive showcase of the company's technology, before attending a dinner banquet hosted by Mr Abe and his wife Akie.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'President Halimah to witness Emperor Naruhito's enthronement'. Print Edition | Subscribe