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Japanese Emperor Naruhito formally proclaimed his ascendancy to the throne on Tuesday in a centuries-old ceremony attended by dignitaries from more than 180—countries, pledging to fulfil his duty as a symbol of the state.
Naruhito became emperor in May in a brief, tradition-filled ceremony but Tuesday's "Sokui no Rei" was a more elaborate ritual at the royal palace in which he officially announced his change in status to the world.
"I swear that I will act according to the constitution and fulfil my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people," the 59-year-old declared, his voice slightly hoarse, in front of about 2,000 participants, including Britain's Prince Charles.
"I sincerely hope that Japan will develop further and contribute to the friendship and peace of the international community, and to the welfare and prosperity of human beings through the people's wisdom and ceaseless efforts."
The first Japanese emperor born after World War Two, Naruhito acceded to the throne when his father, Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries after worrying that advancing age might make it hard to perform official duties.
"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 among small groups of umbrella-clutching supporters outside the palace.
The long-planned celebrations were tempered by Typhoon Hagibis, which killed at least 80 people when it tore through Japan 10 days ago, and pouring rain on Tuesday.
A public parade was postponed until next month to allow the government to devote its attention to the typhoon clean-up, while Tuesday's inclement weather forced the palace to scale back the number of courtiers in ancient robes taking part in the courtyard ceremony although the skies cleared as it began.
Naruhito began the day's ceremonies by reporting his enthronement to his imperial ancestors at one of three shrines on the palace grounds, dressed in a black headdress and pure white robes with a long train borne by an attendant.
He was followed later by Empress Masako, 55, his Harvard-educated wife, dressed in 12-layered white robes and attended by two women in violet robes to arrange her train.
For the main ceremony in the Matsu-no-Ma, or Hall of Pine, the most prestigious room in the palace, Naruhito wore a traditional burnt-orange robe and headdress, as his father did nearly three decades ago.
He declared his enthronement from the "Takamikura" –—a 6.5-metre (21—feet) high pavilion that weighs about 8—tonnes—- with an ancient sword and a jewel, two of the so-called Three Sacred Treasures, placed beside him.
Together with a mirror called Yata-no-Kagami, which is kept at the Ise Grand Shrine, the holiest site in Japan's Shinto religion, the three treasures comprise the regalia that symbolises the legitimacy of the emperor.
Masako, wearing 12-layered robes and an elaborate, upswept hairstyle, also took part, her throne smaller.