President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the over 170 world leaders who witnessed the best of Japanese cultural heritage at the grand enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito Tuesday.
The President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta attended the historic ceremony held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.
Dressed in a colorful Japanese traditional attire, Emperor Naruhito delivered his speech and proclaimed his enthronement from a raised canopied throne during the 30-minute ceremony.
Emperor Naruhito, 59, who takes over from his father Emperor Akihito pledged to uphold the Japanese Constitution in fulfilling his responsibility as the symbol of State and of the unity of the people of Japan.
The new emperor also wished happiness and peace for the world.
“I sincerely hope that our country, through our people’s wisdom and unceasing efforts, achieves further development and contributes to the friendship and peace of the international community,” the royal said.
In his brief congratulatory speech, Prime Minister Abe assured the new emperor of his support and that of the whole country as he officially takes over the throne.
“We, the people of Japan, revere Your Majesty as the symbol of the State and the unity of the people and pledge, with resolve, to devote our utmost efforts to create a bright future for Japan, which is peaceful and brimming with hope, in which we take pride and create an era of culture coming into being and flourishing when people bring their hearts and minds together in a beautiful manner,” PM Abe said.
Appointment of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Ministers of State as well as receiving of foreign ambassadors are some of the responsibilities assigned to the emperor by the constitution of Japan.
The enthronement of the new emperor is the climax of a long and detailed succession process that started on May 1 this year when Emperor Naruhito took over the throne from his father and predecessor Emperor Akihito who relinquished the position he held for close to 30 years.
According to available records, Emperor Emeritus Akihito is the first monarch in Japan’s royal history to abdicate in more than 200 years, making today’s event a once-in-a-lifetime ceremony for many Japanese.
Ahead of the colourful coronation, Kenya’s Ambassador to Japan Solomon Maina said President Kenyatta’s invitation to the ceremony was not only a show of high respect for the Kenyan leader but also a clear testament of the solid relationship between Kenya and Japan.
“The presence of His Excellency the President and Her Excellency the First Lady at this very important ceremony for Japan is a reflection of the time-tested relationship between Kenya and Japan that has grown stronger over the years,” Amb. Maina said.
Kenya is the leading development partner of Japan in Africa and over the years, the Asian economic giant has supported Kenya’s development agenda with investments in renewable energy, infrastructure, water, health, education and technology transfer among other sectors.
Japan has been one of Kenya’s outstanding partners in the development of geothermal power resources especially the Olkaria complex in Naivasha, a project that has earned the country international recognition as an African leader in renewable energy development.
The ongoing expansion of Ngong Road in Nairobi, expansion works at the Port of Mombasa, construction of the Dongo Kundu Bypass, the planned Mombasa Gate Bridge over the Likoni channel and development of the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) are some of the key infrastructure projects being supported by Japan.
Besides Heads of State and Government, the historical ceremony was attended by royals from across the world among them King Philippe (Belgium), King Willem-Alexander (The Netherlands), King Felipe VI (Spain), King Carl XVI (Sweden), Sheikh Tamim (Amir of Qatar) and King Mswati III (Eswatini).
Also present were Prince Charles (The Prince of Wales, UK) as well as Presidents Alassane Ouattara (Cote d’Ivoire), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger), Patrice Talon (Benin), Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé (Togo) and Jorge Carlos Fonseca (Cape Verde).
To cap the historic day, Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako hosted a banquet in honour of visiting world leaders where they mingled and exchanged pleasantries with the guests that included President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.