Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The enthronement of Emperor Naruhito & Empress Masako

Today in Japan, The Prince of Wales attended the Ceremony of Enthronement of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. This is quite an occasion in light of the changes that have taken place in Japanese society since the last set of ceremonies in 1990. Emperor Naruhito, 59, acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May after his father, Emperor Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch in more than two centuries to abdicate. But, after a series of traditional rituals inside the imperial palace in Tokyo, his ascension has now been formalised. The ceremony comes as Japan reels from the effects of Typhoon Hagibis, which left almost 80 people dead.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito formally proclaimed his accession to the throne, He promised to act in accordance with the Constitution and fulfill his duties as the symbol of the nation and the unity of the Japanese people. He is also the symbol of Japan's new era: Reiwa.

Emperor Naruhito cut a grand figure as the deep purple curtains of his canopied, 6.5-meter-tall throne were pulled apart to reveal him enrobed in an orange-brown garment, a black crown atop his head, as he announced his enthronement to the world.

He said “Having previously succeeded to the imperial throne in accordance with the Constitution of Japan and the Special Measures Law on the Imperial House Law. I now … proclaim my enthronement to those at home and abroad,” he declared at the enthronement ceremony, called Sokui no Rei, which was attended by around 2,000 dignitaries from some 180 countries and regions.

Sokui no Rei is one of the major events in a series of ceremonies and rites scheduled throughout the year following Emperor Naruhito’s accession to the chrysanthemum throne in May. Although he officially became emperor on May 1, after his father — now Emperor Emeritus Akihito — stepped down from the throne due to his advanced age, Tuesday’s ceremony marks the official declaration of Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement.

“I pledge hereby that I shall act according to the Constitution, and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always wishing for the happiness of the people and the peace of the world, turning my thoughts to the people and standing by them,” he said, underlining the emperor’s role within the country’s supreme law.

The ceremony saw the emperor and empress in regal attire entering the Pine Chamber of the Imperial Palace, as attending dignitaries watched by video link from within the Imperial Palace.

Big names including Prince Charles from the United Kingdom, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao from the United States, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon were there to congratulate the new emperor.

Wearing imperial robes in a warm brown hue — a color reserved in times past especially for the emperor — Emperor Naruhito sat on the takamikura canopied throne, which is decorated with lacquer and gold phoenixes and sits atop a square dais.

His wife Empress Masako was in similarly regal attire, wearing a colorful and multilayered kimono, and sat on a smaller version of Emperor Naruhito’s throne.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered congratulations in response to the emperor’s speech, saying, “We, the people, look up to His Majesty the Emperor as the symbol of Japan and the unity of its people, and, with a renewed spirit, will put our best efforts into creating an era where new culture will flourish as a peaceful, hopeful and proud Japan realizes a bright future and the people come together in beautiful harmony.” He then led the guests in a banzai salute before the emperor and empress exited the chamber.

I found the whole event fascinating. In a world of modernity it still seems as if old habits and traditions die hard. Mixed in with all the pomp and ceremony were a whole lot of issues:

1. Did the many Shinto elements of the ritual violate the country’s 1947 constitution?
2. Why were 550,000 people pardoned from penalties such as driving bans?
3. Is there a place for ancient traditions in a modern world?

The aim of today’s blog post is to highlight the unchangeable nature of god and the gracious character of his nature. The fact that I am writing about this is in itself amazing. You see, the god of the Bible is nothing like anyone you’ve ever met before. He is just, fair, morally perfect and unbending when it comes to moral principle. BUT the god of the Bible is also loving, gracious, long-suffering, kind and forgiving. 

thankfully despite the changing seasons of world trends, Politics and morals the god of the Bible is unchanging. This isn’t in an antiquated, old fashioned sense as he is eternally up to date. The moral values that are expressed in scripture are timeless, reflect the character of God and the principles upon which life should be lived. The only problem is that most of us (all of us if we are really honest) struggle to live up to these standards. 

Professor JOHN Lennox in his recent book, ‘can science explain everything?’ states that Christianity is not merit based. We are not accepted by god at the final judgment on the basis of our own efforts. Conversely, our salvation and forgiveness is about being accepted by god. It is the result of a step of commitment to a person, Jesus Christ. It involves believing that Jesus is God incarnate, who has come into the world to give his life as a ransom for our sins (which alienate us from god). 

Let me leave you with a verse pertinent verse from the Bible. 

For god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life - john 3:16. 

I know this blog started in Japan with the culturally different enthronement of a 21st Emperor. It concludes reminding you of an unchanging god who still loves you and desires your eternal blessing. 

How then do you take that step of faith in Jesus Christ. As a friend of mine preached recently - ‘if you are serious about this, then get into God’s presence, pray, seek his mercy, confess your sin, admit you are wrong, repent, turn from your self-will to god and trust him to save you.

It’s all possible because Christ died for our sins, he was buried and he rose again on this third day. 


Various newspaper articles
Can science explain everything? John Lennox, The good Book company


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