Japanese Emperor Naruhito, his father, and his grandfather, former Emperor Hirohito, have been key backers of the Paralympics, which will open on Friday. Now Hirohito’s grandson, Naruhito will formally open the Games. It is the first time that a reigning emperor has gone to the opening ceremony. Hirohito ruled from 1931 until his abdication in 1989 after an epic World War II that saw Japan invade and occupy numerous countries, including China and the Soviet Union.
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The figure of the emperor is not normally seen at the opening ceremony but there is a time of year when the general public are more exposed to the elderly royal, who is due to abdicate on 20 October.
On Wednesday, Naruhito attended the Prime Minister’s event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Japanese parliament, where he delivered his concluding remarks.
The last time a reigning emperor attended the opening ceremony was in 1948.
Naruhito’s mother, Empress Michiko, who lives at the imperial palace in central Tokyo with her husband, Prince Akishino, has often been seen attending the opening ceremony. Prince Akishino, like his father, was a world champion bowler, in the 1950s. Their children have also visited athletes during their time as members of the Japanese parliament.
The Japanese leader Shinzo Abe has also openly supported Paralympic sports. He will attend the closing ceremony on Sunday.
Abe personally met with the main protagonists from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics’ Paralympic flag-bearer selection process in June.
In Tokyo, the full programme for the opening ceremony has not been announced, but will likely be aired live to the public on Friday on TBS.