Japan's Emperor marks 5 years on throne

Wednesday marks five years since Japan's Emperor Naruhito ascended the throne.

During this period, the Emperor has explored his role as a symbol of the state. He also searched for new ways to engage with people amid the coronavirus pandemic, including making use of online platforms.

During his first news conference after his enthronement, the Emperor said he will treasure opportunities to meet many people and listen to their stories.

He has remained true to this commitment, traveling to various places across Japan with Empress Masako for annual events. Following the precedent set by their predecessors, the Imperial couple have visited areas hit by natural disasters to offer encouragement to survivors.

During the initial year of 2019, the couple visited the northeastern prefectures of Miyagi and Fukushima, which were severely affected by heavy rain.

However, the coronavirus pandemic forced the couple to suspend such visits for nearly three years. Instead, they strived to build relationships with people through online interactions.

In March and April this year, they visited communities in the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture in central Japan that were hit by the New Year's Day earthquake. These were their first such visits following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Emperor and Empress have also strived to boost international exchanges. They visited Britain in September 2022 to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth. It was their first visit abroad since the enthronement. They also made an official visit to Indonesia last June.

At the proposal of the couple, Japanese dishes have been introduced as appetizers at Imperial luncheons hosting overseas guests since last autumn. Traditionally, such occasions featured Western cuisine.

The Imperial Household Agency created its official Instagram account last month in an attempt to swiftly share accurate information about the Imperial Family.