Japan's Emperor Naruhito urges peace and happiness in public debut

New Japanese Emperor Naruhito made his first public appearance on Saturday, expressing hopes that the country would pursue a policy of promoting world peace.

As he is the first emperor born after World War II, the 59-year-old monarch's accession to the throne is being seen as the start of a new cultural era.

Naruhito took the Chrysanthemum Throne on Wednesday, a day after his 85-year-old father, Akihito, had formally abdicated on the grounds of advancing age.

"I wish for your health and happiness and sincerely hope that our country pursues world peace hand in hand with other countries and will develop further," Naruhito told flag-waving well-wishers from a palace balcony, standing alongside his wife, Empress Masako.

The new monarch, who studied history at England's Oxford University and plays the viola as a keen amateur musician, promised to abide by the postwar constitution, which strips emperors of political power.

Read more: Japan's new emperor: Who is Naruhito?

Start of an era

He pledged to fulfill his responsibility as a national symbol while "always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them."

An estimated 65,000 people were reportedly present to celebrate.

Naruhito is Japan's 126th emperor and his accession marks the beginning of the "Reiwa" era — Reiwa meaning "beautiful harmony."

rc/tj (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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