Singapore President Halimah among dignitaries to witness Emperor Naruhito's enthronement 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.
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

TOKYO - Singapore President Halimah Yacob is among the world dignitaries who will be gathering in Tokyo to witness the formal enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito on Tuesday (Oct 22).

She is 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 on Tuesday.

The guest list includes Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, as well as Asean leaders like 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 on Tuesday - 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.

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

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

 
 
 
 

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

The gathering of world leaders means 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 Mr Wang on Wednesday and Mr Lee on Thursday, given Japan's fraught ties with China and South Korea.

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

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.