Emperor Naruhito of Japan celebrates his year on the throne this Friday, which has been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and by a strong typhoon that altered the ceremonies to commemorate his enthronement.
Naruhito, 60, ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019, a day after his father Akihito starred in the first abdication of a Japanese emperor in more than two centuries.
After a ritual ceremony in which he received the three relics of the imperial family, symbols of the emperor's power, Naruhito paid a heartfelt tribute to his father and promised to follow his path of always keeping in mind the Japanese people, among whom he apparently enjoys of wide acceptance.
According to a survey published by the Kyodo news agency on the occasion of his first anniversary on the throne, 75% of the Japanese surveyed have a positive image of Naruhito. 58% said they had an affinity for him, compared to 48% for Emperor Akihito in a similar survey after his enthronement in 1989.
During the first year of Reiwa, the name of the era that marks the reign of Naruhito, the 126th emperor of Japan has participated in a multitude of ceremonies related to his enthronement, received by foreign dignitaries such as US President Donald Trump or the Pope Francis, and visited several cities in the country.
The public ceremony to proclaim his arrival to the throne (equivalent to a monarchical coronation) held on October 22 before 2,000 guests, including more than 400 foreign dignitaries, was marred by the scourge shortly before the powerful typhoon Hagibis.
The wind storm caused numerous damages, from which certain areas continue to recover, and caused a delay of almost 20 days of the only act open to the public of the celebrations, the car parade of the emperor with his wife, the empress Masako.
Among the acts performed in their first year as emperors, the imperial couple visited the victims of the typhoon, maintaining a tone close to that of their predecessors and highlighting the recovery of Masako, 56, absent in many events when they were prince heirs , from a long stress-induced depression.
At a time when Japan's emperors are seeking their role, the spread of COVID-19 has forced Naruhito and Masako to stay away from public events in recent months.
When the pandemic had not yet taken on its current dimension, the Japanese emperor was forced to cancel the traditional greeting to the public from the balcony of the Tokyo Imperial Palace on the occasion of his birthday on February 23, the first on the throne.
The Japanese head of state already expressed his wish that the expansion of the coronavirus end "as soon as possible".
Emperors have been receiving updates on the health crisis situation from medical experts.
"I sincerely hope that people will join and join forces to overcome this difficult situation," Naruhito said before a private conference on April 10 with one of the members of the government committee of experts working on crisis management, according to the Imperial Household Agency revealed.
Naruhito and Masako were planning to make their first official overseas trip as emperors to the UK in May, although the trip has been canceled due to the pandemic.
The spread of the pathogen, which keeps Japan on health alert, also prompted the postponement of a ceremony originally scheduled for April 19 in which the emperor's younger brother, Fumihito, 54, was to be formally proclaimed as crown prince, first in the line of succession.
Her parents, emperors emeritus Akihito and Michiko, aged 86 and 85, were also not without shocks in their first year of retirement.
In June, two months after the abdication, Michiko underwent a cataract operation (days after cardiac abnormalities were detected) and in September a breast operation.
More recently, in January, Akihito fainted, although nothing serious was found on medical examination.
The emperor emeritus has been apart from public activities since he gave the throne, although on January 2 he appeared briefly with Emperor Naruhito in the traditional New Year's greeting from the balcony of the imperial palace.