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Japan's new emperor makes first public appearance

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Japan's new emperor makes first public appearance
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REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Japan's Emperor Naruhito urged the country to strive for world peace as he addressed the public at the Imperial Palace for the first time since ascending the throne on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate the Imperial succession. Naruhito, Empress Masako and several other members of the Imperial family greeted the public.

"I pray for your health and happiness, and I sincerely wish for further development of our nation by going hand in hand with other nations and seeking global peace," Naruhito told crowds.

The ceremony, in which the imperial family took to the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, was repeated six times in order to allow as many people as possible to witness it. New crowds were shepherded into the viewing area every six hours.

Hiroyo Kato was one of the thousands who queue for hours to catch a glimpse of the new emperor. She said: "I could hear my heart beating when I heard the Emperor's real voice. It was touching to be able to see and hear the Emperor at this historic moment."

The 59-year-old Naruhito spent his formative years in the United Kingdom, where he studied at Oxford University.

Naruhito's father, Akihito abdicated on Tuesday, after some 30 years on the throne over concerns his age would make it difficult to carry out his duties. His abdication was Japan’s first in more than 200 years.