Japan's new era

In an eye-blinkingly brief ceremony at the Imperial Palace, Naruhito, 59, officially succeeded Akihito, 85, an enormously popular monarch who brought the royal family much closer to the people as he emphasized a message of peace in a country haunted by the legacy of war.

Naruhito is taking the throne at a time when Japan faces numerous challenges, including a low birthrate and a declining, aging population. The country is making efforts to open itself to foreign workers, change the country’s brutal, entrenched work culture and reduce gender inequality.

Educated at Oxford University, Naruhito, along with his wife, Masako, a former diplomat with a degree from Harvard, represents a cosmopolitan outlook in an often insular Japan. In his limited public statements, Naruhito has indicated he believes the monarchy should adjust to modernity.

The new era has been named Reiwa.

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