New Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, ascends the Chrysanthemum throne

/ CBS News

Japan enters a new era under Emperor Naruhito

Tokyo — A new emperor has taken over in Japan. Emperor Naruhito ascended the throne after his father, now-Emperor Emeritus Akihito, abdicated. It was the first time a Japanese emperor has stepped down in 200 years.

The change ushered in a new "era" in Japan. The era of Naruhito's reign on the Chrysanthemum Throne, as Japan's imperial seat has been known for centuries, has been dubbed Reiwa, or "enlightened happiness."

As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported on Wednesday, Naruhito is widely expected to continue the work of his father; humanizing the emperor's role, as well as pressing for modern reforms to normalize life for the royal family.

Trending News

In a brief ceremony, Naruhito, 59 vowed to stay close to the Japanese people and work for world peace.

Japan's imperial court is a rigidly formal world, and the new emperor only escaped it once, briefly, when he went to Oxford to study history in the 1980s — years he's described as the happiest of his life.

In 1993 he married Masako, a brainy Harvard-educated Japanese diplomat, and immediately the couple came under fierce pressure to produce an heir. When the first and only baby arrived, though, she was a girl; Princess Toshi.

Japan Emperor Akihito first to step down in more than 200 years

Then-Princess, now Empress Masako expressed her joy at Toshi's birth, but in a country where girls can't take the throne, it wasn't good enough for everyone.

In rare public appearances the royal couple came across as happy, and surprisingly casual, but in private, Masako fell ill with depression.

"Naruhito tried to protect her but she continues to be somewhat reserved and not fully healthy," Professor Koichi Nakano of Sophia University told CBS News. "So I don't think she's likely to take her new role with great zeal or with an agenda."

As the Empress appeared alongside Naruhito on Wednesday, it was impossible to tell what she was thinking. But everybody in Japan knows big questions loom, with only three direct male successors left in Japan's royal family.

Naruhito is on record as backing reforms that would mean the next time the elaborate ceremony is performed, his daughter could be ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Surveys show a majority of Japanese people would be in favor of opening the line of succession to girls, but so far, the conservative power elite is standing in the way of change.

First published on May 1, 2019 / 11:16 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Iowa woman killed while driving may have been shot by hunter

Police seek surveillance or trail camera video that could show whether someone was hunting nearby

57M ago

Students killed in UNCC shooting identified

A motive is not yet apparent in the shooting

1H ago

U.S. military stops releasing information tracking progress in Afghanistan

The move comes as a government watchdog agency shows Afghan control of land is decreasing

1H ago

Nikki Haley lands spot on Boeing's board of directors

Haley resigned from her post as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations last year

2H ago

Fed set to hold rates steady, despite Trump's demand for a cut

The president wants it to add some juice to the U.S. economy, but with growth in a "sweet spot," that's not likely

2H ago

U.S. military stops releasing information tracking progress in Afghanistan

The move comes as a government watchdog agency shows Afghan control of land is decreasing

1H ago

Nikki Haley lands spot on Boeing's board of directors

Haley resigned from her post as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations last year

2H ago

Schiff says Barr "deliberately" misleading public is "serious business"

"I think his statement is deliberately false and misleading and yes, most people would consider that to be a lie," said Schiff

2H ago

Joan Perry, Greg Murphy advance to runoff in North Carolina's special election

Both Perry and Murphy are physicians and will look to take on former North Carolina mayor Allen Thomas

4H ago

Barr denied knowing Mueller's stance on report summary after Mueller complained

CBS News has confirmed that not only did Mueller send Barr a letter complaining about the way Barr described the special counsel's findings, but the two men also spoke on the phone

4H ago

New emperor, new era in Japan as Naruhito takes the throne

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Tokyo as a new emperor takes the reins after the first imperial abdication in the country in 200 years.

14M ago

Russia accuses U.S. of "fake" news on Venezuela; what's in it for Putin?

Moscow dismisses U.S. claim that Russia convinced Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro not to flee Caracas, but Russia does have a role in the standoff

1H ago

Cambridge to investigate slave trade links and "reparative justice"

Inquiry "comes amid a wider reflection taking place in the United States and Britain on the links between universities and slavery," Cambridge says

2H ago

Assange sentenced, says "well-founded" fear drove him into hiding

47-year-old WikiLeaks founder sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail in London, with U.S. extradition request is still pending

3H ago

Venezuelan opposition vies for momentum as Maduro appears immovable

Opposition leader Juan Guaido calls for more protests after Day-1 of his "Operation Freedom" ends with Maduro still surrounded by loyal military commanders

4H ago

With massive festival, Pharrell Williams says Virginia Beach is "open for business"

The 12-time Grammy-winner's latest project is a massive three-day festival unlike anything Virginia Beach has ever seen

2H ago

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream in May

Apr 26 36 photos

Pharrell's inside look at his music festival

"Get Lucky" is one of the countless hits Pharrell Williams has helped to create over the course of his remarkable career. As a producer, rapper, and songwriter, there is not much the 12-time Grammy winner hasn’t done. Now, he is adding a music festival to the list. Gayle King joined Pharrell in Virginia Beach, his hometown that hosted the first Something in the Water music festival.

1H ago 08:06

Chris Pratt reveals video from "Avengers: Endgame" set

"Nobody was allowed to film anything on their phones. I said screw it. No rule was going to stop me…" wrote the star on Instagram

11H ago

Jussie Smollett will not return to "Empire" next season

Chicago police accused the 36-year-old actor of orchestrating a racist and homophobic attack against himself in late January

14H ago

UK police face backlash over personal data requests

London government victims' advocate says sexual assault victims can be re-traumatized by the blanket request for their personal data when they go to police

17H ago

Facebook rolls out major redesign at developers conference

"The future is private," CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared, promising more one-on-one contact and encryption in Messenger

20H ago

Alphabet shares down 15 percent on disappointing earnings

Slowing ad sales have some analysts worried that search giant's core business is starting to sputter

Apr 30

Chase tweets about budgeting, gets burned by Twitter

The bank, whose CEO made $31 million last year and which was on the receiving end of U.S. bailouts, has since deleted the tweet

Apr 29

Angie's List favors its own advertisers, consumer group warns

Consumer Federation of America urges users of the popular ratings site to ignore its recommended businesses

Apr 30

How NASA would keep an asteroid from hitting Earth

While unlikely, scientists are preparing for the worst case scenario

16H ago

SpaceX launch delayed by space station glitch

Faulty electronics box on the space station will be replaced using the lab's robot arm

21H ago

NASA troubleshoots space station power glitch

Upcoming SpaceX cargo launch could be delayed if space station power glitch isn't quickly resolved

Apr 29

Beto O'Rourke rolls out four-part climate plan

The four part plan aims to address the battle against climate change, what O'Rourke calls "the greatest threat we face"

19H ago

Flooding kills dozens in heavily-deforested Indonesia

Cutting down of trees and inappropriate land use has left the country vulnerable, as the death toll from flooding and landslides shows

Apr 29

Abortion doctors face up to 99 years in jail with new Ala. law

The bill makes no exceptions for rape and incest, despite objections from the state's Democrats.

15H ago

"Vampire facials" at spa linked to two HIV cases

More than 100 former clients of VIP Spa, which closed last September, have been tested for blood-borne infections

18H ago

Teen suicides rose after "13 Reasons Why," study finds

While the researchers cannot prove that the Netflix show caused the increase, they say the association is troubling

20H ago

Autism can be diagnosed earlier, study suggests

Earlier diagnosis could also mean earlier intervention

22H ago

Don't call it a midlife crisis. Try "middlescence," expert on aging says

Gerontologist and life coach Barbara Waxman offers practical tips for middle age people to thrive

22H ago

Fed set to hold rates steady, despite Trump's demand for a cut

The president wants it to add some juice to the U.S. economy, but with growth in a "sweet spot," that's not likely

2H ago

40 million Americans struggle to put food on the table

In every county across the U.S., some people are facing hunger — children are the most vulnerable

11H ago

Is this record-setting stock market setting up investors for a fall?

If you're worried that stock prices can't get much higher, you might want to review this list of market indicators

Apr 30

Millennials struggle under the burden of student loan debt

Taylor Smith graduated college with 11 student loans and $53,000 in debt

13H ago

The rise of female gun ownership and fashionable "carrywear"

Alexo Athletica designed a pair of Lulelemon-like leggings with pockets for guns — and women gun owners took notice

Apr 26

Students killed in UNCC shooting identified

A motive is not yet apparent in the shooting

1H ago

Ex-Penn State president wins reprieve hours before reporting to jail

Federal judge throws out former Penn State President Graham Spanier's misdemeanor child-endangerment conviction

3H ago

Former Minneapolis cop found guilty of murder

A former Minneapolis police officer could face more than 15 years in prison for shooting and killing an unarmed yoga teacher. Mohamed Noor was found guilty Tuesday of murdering Justine Damond nearly two years ago. Dean Reynolds reports.

2H ago 02:45

Arrest was in works for suspect in killing of 7 in Tennessee

Michael Cummins' probation officer was preparing the papers to take him into custody when Cummins allegedly went on a rampage

4H ago

Suspect arrested in deadly UNC Charlotte shooting

A North Carolina university police chief says officers arrived within minutes to the room in a campus building where a shooting happened, disarming the gunman. University of North Carolina-Charlotte Police Chief Jeff Baker said that a call came in at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday that a suspect armed with a pistol had shot several students. Two of them died.

13H ago 01:24

SpaceX launch delayed by space station glitch

Faulty electronics box on the space station will be replaced using the lab's robot arm

21H ago

NASA troubleshoots space station power glitch

Upcoming SpaceX cargo launch could be delayed if space station power glitch isn't quickly resolved

Apr 29

NASA just detected the first "marsquake"

For the first time since its mission began, NASA's InSight lander has detected what scientists believe to be a marsquake

Apr 23

"Marfa Martians" sending their science experiment to space

The team, made up of 10 and 11-year-olds, want to find a way to kill bacteria in space

Apr 22

SpaceX suffers Crew Dragon engine test anomaly

SpaceX suffers engine "anomaly" in Crew Dragon test vehicle during Cape Canaveral engine test

Apr 20

Worst movie sequels since 2000, ranked

These are the lowest-rated sequels this century, according to Metacritic's rankings

21H ago 51 photos

Private secrets shared via postcard

Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of anonymous contributors with something to get off their chest have sent postcards to the website PostSecret.com

Apr 28 32 photos

Met Gala 2019: Craziest looks of all time

The bigger the tiara – or pope hat – the better! (Just ask Rihanna, Katy Perry or Sarah Jessica Parker… )

Apr 26 47 photos

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Apr 26 36 photos

Jason Corbett murder: A look at the evidence

In August 2015, former FBI agent Tom Martens and his daughter Molly Corbett admitted killing her Irish-born husband Jason Corbett, insisting they beat him in self-defense with a brick paver and a baseball bat because Jason was choking Molly and threatening to kill her

Apr 20 11 photos

Popular

Barr blames media for confusion over Mueller

During a hearing on Capitol Hill, Attorney General William Barr testified that special counsel Robert Mueller felt the "press reporting" of Barr's letter summarizing the nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference had "been inaccurate" and the press had read "too much into it."

updated 23M ago 02:10

Japan enters a new era under Emperor Naruhito

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Tokyo as a new emperor takes the reins after the first imperial abdication in the country in 200 years.

updated 14M ago 02:17

Foreign influences on Venezuela crisis

National security adviser John Bolton says Russia and Cuba are putting serious pressure on the Venezuelan goverment to resist handing over power. This comes as opposition leader Juan Guaido calls for a second day of protests. CBS News State Department reporter Christina Ruffini joins CBSN with more on the power struggle.

1H ago 04:40

What to expect from Barr's testimony

Attorney General William Barr will testify today before the Senate about the Mueller report. CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid, chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, legal analyst Rikki Klieman, and CBSN legal contributor Rebecca Roiphe join CBSN to discuss.

updated 9M ago 15:46

Pharrell's inside look at his music festival

"Get Lucky" is one of the countless hits Pharrell Williams has helped to create over the course of his remarkable career. As a producer, rapper, and songwriter, there is not much the 12-time Grammy winner hasn’t done. Now, he is adding a music festival to the list. Gayle King joined Pharrell in Virginia Beach, his hometown that hosted the first Something in the Water music festival.

1H ago 08:06