Bucks, Giannis Show They Can Adapt, Which Should Terrify Celtics, Rest of East

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 30: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks goes to the basket against the Boston Celtics  during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2019 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images).

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The Milwaukee Bucks dominated the regular season by establishing an identity that served them well.

They shot heaps of threes, spaced the floor at every position and vacated the lane so Giannis Antetokounmpo could barrel into the paint, overwhelming whatever lone defender stood in front of him. Those basic tactics produced the league’s best record and highest net rating. There’s a good chance they’ll lead to an MVP award for Antetokounmpo, and they worked just fine in a 4-0 sweep of the Detroit Pistons in the first round.

They also produced a pretty clear scouting report, and the Boston Celtics executed it perfectly in Sunday’s Game 1 victory. The loss was effectively an identity crisis for the Bucks.

In Tuesday’s 123-102 Game 2 win, the Bucks solved that crisis by departing from their core identity, even if sometimes only subtly. In doing so, Milwaukee did more to legitimize its status as a true contender than anything else it achieved during its brilliant regular season.

That isn’t to say the Bucks changed everything. In some respects, they leaned even harder on what got them here.

They fired 47 threes—nine more than they averaged during the year—hitting a franchise-playoff-record 20 of them. Their previous mark of 16 fell in the third quarter.

Antetokounmpo still relentlessly attacked, bulldozing into the lane with bad intentions. He scored 13 of his 29 points at the charity stripe.

That’s largely where the familiar sights ended.

Broadly speaking, the Bucks were different. After Game 1, they had to be. In that surprising loss, the Celtics shut off the lane, sent a second defender to dig at Antetokounmpo whenever he drove and (wisely) trusted Al Horford to prevent point-blank looks. Those tactics led to Antetokounmpo shooting 7-of-21 from the field and 4-of-16 on two-pointers in Game 1—the least-efficient high-volume efforts of his career.

The Celtics took away what the Bucks did well all year, and Milwaukee had no in-game counter.

That Game 1 result validated Bucks skeptics. Head coach Mike Budenholzer’s failure to make in-game adjustments with the Atlanta Hawks seemed to have resurfaced. Milwaukee’s somewhat gimmicky system was exposed. A quality playoff opponent easily exploited Antetokounmpo’s unreliable jumper.

On Tuesday, the Bucks’ adjustments quieted those doubters.

Instead of Antetokounmpo attacking a waiting defense, the Bucks involved him in more screening action both on and off the ball. Whenever Horford wasn’t directly in front of Giannis, the Bucks suddenly looked like their regular-season selves. It’s telling that Antetokounmpo didn’t make a field goal until the second quarter, when an off-ball screen he set produced a switch and left Jayson Tatum between him and the bucket.

The result was as predictable as it was spectacular.

Antetokounmpo was also quicker to recognize Boston’s help rotations and kept the ball moving. Milwaukee’s outside shooting was hot from the outset (5-of-12 in the first quarter), which kept Celtics helpers a half-step closer to their perimeter assignments. As the help on Antetokounmpo came later, the three-point shots got cleaner. It was almost a chicken-or-egg scenario: Was Antetokounmpo’s work in the lane creating the threes, or were the threes keeping the lane uncluttered?

Boston also suffered some uncharacteristic breakdowns, losing track of dangerous shooters and failing to repeat its nearly flawless transition-defense performance from Game 1.

Whatever the combination of causes, the effects favored the Bucks, who notably got 28 points and seven made triples from a scorching Khris Middleton. Before Antetokounmpo got rolling in the second half, Middleton’s dead-eye sniping sustained Milwaukee. Middleton was a nightmare for the Celtics a year ago, so maybe this is just what he does whenever he sees them.

The Celtics hung tough in the first half, but Milwaukee opened the floodgates in the third quarter. The Bucks stifled Boston throughout the period, got out on the break and fractured the Celtics defense that didn’t crack in Game 1. As the Bucks rode the tide of a 24-2 run, Antetokounmpo confidently walked into a pair of threes.

He was feeling himself on the second one.

Despite a much better effort than he managed in Game 1, Antetokounmpo still rarely got as close to the rim as he did during the regular season. Boston is committed to denying him that last takeoff step, and he drove hopelessly into traffic more than once. He made a few difficult shots inside, passed the ball off and relied on drawing fouls to get his points. It was successful night for him, and it was all the more impressive because he did it against a Celtics team that proved it could limit him, not an exhausted mid-December foe without the time or personnel to keep him from getting a half-dozen uncontested dunks in transition.

A tied series assures nothing for Milwaukee. Kyrie Irving was a miserable 4-of-18, and the Celtics got only five points in 31 minutes from Gordon Hayward. Boston will be better as the series progresses.

And besides, the Celtics should be happy with a split on the road, especially since they gave the Bucks much more to think about after Game 1 than any opponent had to date.

But it’s still encouraging that Milwaukee proved it could pivot, that it could make tweaks without abandoning what got it here. We often talk about establishing an identity as a positive, as something teams should aspire to. Nobody’s identity was more firmly set than the Bucks’ this season, but after Game 1, it was fair to wonder whether that firmness was actually inflexibility.

We knew what the Bucks were coming into this series, but Game 1 raised the possibility that because of a quirky style, Antetokounmpo’s shooting limitations and a season of drilling system basketball, that’s all they could be.

Tuesday’s win proved the Bucks are more than that.

If you want to zoom way out and consider repercussions beyond this series, it isn’t that hard. Just imagine a scenario in which the Bucks don’t adjust in Game 2. They go down 0-2 and head back to Boston short on answers and hope. They face the possibility of being one of the great “they were just a regular-season team” disappointments in recent memory, raising the prospect of a frustrated Antetokounmpo becoming the next Anthony Davis in all of the wrong ways.

Viewed through that long-range lens, the Bucks’ Game 2 win was even bigger than it seemed.

It showed the league and Antetokounmpo that the Bucks are ready to grow right along with him.


Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference, Cleaning the Glass or NBA.com unless otherwise specified. Accurate through games played Tuesday, April 30.

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Oprah gets candid: How she negotiated raises and why she left ’60 Minutes’

LOS ANGELES – Oprah Winfrey has long encouraged fans to find purpose and value. On Tuesday, she talked about finding it herself. 

Winfrey, who received the inaugural Empowerment in Entertainment Award at The Hollywood Reporter’s luncheon in Los Angeles, spoke from the podium to a crowd of industry execs and students.

In the late ’70s and ’80s, she said, “back when I was doing the news in Baltimore, I asked to make the same (salary) as my co-anchor who was doing the same job I was doing – except he called me ‘Babe’ the whole time.”

Both her news director and news manager denied her request for a raise.

“I realized at that moment that my employers didn’t get it; didn’t understand my value,” said Winfrey.

But power dynamics shifted when years later, in 1986, Winfrey’s Chicago talk show was about to get national syndication as The Oprah Winfrey Show. Winfrey got paid more, but her all-female team of producers did not.

Why? Winfrey’s male boss was surprised she’d even ask: “They’re only girls. What do they need more money for?” she recalled him saying.

In a room filled with teenagers about to embark on entertainment industry fellowships, Winfrey said, “It takes a while to develop a voice, but once you have it you damn sure are gonna use it.”

So use it Winfrey did. 

“I took a deep breath in that moment. I said, ‘Either they’re gonna get raises, or I’m gonna sit down. I’m not gonna work if they don’t get paid more. Babe,’” she announced from the stage. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Tuesday, Winfrey talked about a more recent example of standing her ground, explaining why when she departed “60 Minutes.”

“It was not the best format for me,” Winfrey told the magazine, adding that she kept getting feedback that she was “too emotional” when recording her name. “I think I did seven takes on just my name because it was ‘too emotional.’ I go, ‘Is the too much emotion in the Oprah part or the Winfrey part?’ I was working on pulling myself down and flattening out my personality — which, for me, is actually not such a good thing.”

It reminded her of a time when she was a cub reporter encouraged to tone down her persona.

“I had a deja vu moment because I’ve actually lived through this once before when I covered a story as a young reporter (where) the family had lost their home, and my boss told me that I reported it with too much emotion … So I was working on pulling myself down and flattening out my personality — which, for me, is actually not such a good thing,” Winfrey told the magazine. 

More: ‘Buttabeep, Buttaboop’ Oprah gives Pete Buttigieg a nickname

More: Oprah Winfrey remembers her mother, Vernita Lee: ‘She lived a good life’

Winfrey also revealed in the interview she had given advice to Gayle King when her best friend was mid-salary negotiations with CBS News. 

“I said, ‘Get what you want. Get exactly what you want because now’s the time. And if you don’t get what you want, then make the next right move.’”

Winfrey had similar go-get-em advice for gala attendees in L.A. on Tuesday: “Let’s leave here today with the collective memory of wanting to create enlightenment in the world,” she said. “Let’s offer the possibility for something better for all of us, because a new day is no longer on the horizon; a new day is now.” 


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US cop guilty of murdering Australian

Mohamed Noor pictured in two police mugshotsImage copyright
AFP/Getty Images

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Mohamed Noor was taken into custody upon his conviction

A former policeman in the US state of Minnesota has been found guilty of murdering an unarmed Australian woman.

Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond as she approached his patrol car to report a possible rape behind her Minneapolis home on 15 July 2017.

Noor, 33, testified last week that he opened fire because he feared he and his partner were being ambushed.

Ms Damond, 40, a yoga instructor from Sydney, was engaged and was due to marry a month after the shooting.

The death drew international criticism and Australia’s prime minister at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, said it was “inexplicable”.

Noor was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately upon being convicted by a jury on Tuesday of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

He was acquitted of the most serious charge of second-degree murder with intent to kill.

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Image caption

Justine Damond

The trial heard the victim, a dual US-Australian citizen, lay dying from a gunshot wound just over a minute after ending a phone conversation with her fiance.

She had told Don Damond that police had just arrived after she called them to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind their home. No such attack was ever found to have occurred.

Noor took the stand last week to say he recalled seeing a blonde female in a pink T-shirt approach his squad car on the night of the shooting.

He said he believed there was an imminent threat after he heard a loud bang and saw Ms Damond with her right arm raised.

Noor said his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, shouted “Oh Jesus!” and fumbled with his gun in its holster before “he turned to me with fear in his eyes”.

The defendant said he “had to make a split-second decision” and shot Ms Damond across his partner through the car window.

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Media captionJustine Damond’s family hold a silent vigil at a beach in Sydney last year

Noor told the court that upon realising he had shot an unarmed woman he “felt like my whole world came crashing down”.

Prosecutors questioned whether the loud bang was real, pointing out that neither Noor nor his partner initially mentioned anything at the scene about hearing such a noise.

Ms Damond’s fingerprints were not found on the squad car, the court heard.

She had moved to the Midwestern city to marry her boyfriend, Don Damond, and had adopted his surname ahead of their nuptials.

Mr Damond was in Las Vegas, Nevada, when investigators called him to say she was dead.

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Noor joined the police force in 2015

He told the court he learned from a second phone call that she had been shot by a police officer.

Mr Damond said contacting her family in Australia to tell them the news was the “worst phone call” he ever had to make.

Noor is a former Somalian refugee whose family moved to the US and settled in Minneapolis.

He joined the police force in 2015, but was sacked after being charged in the shooting.

The fallout also cost Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau her job and was a factor in the election defeat of the city’s mayor a few months later.

The Damond family have filed a civil lawsuit against the city and several police officers seeking $50m (£38m) in damages.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo apologised to Damond’s friends and family in a statement released after Tuesday’s verdict was read.

“This was indeed a sad and tragic incident that has affected family, friends, neighbours, the City of Minneapolis and people around the world, most significantly in her home country of Australia,” he said.

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Gifts for parents: Great gift ideas for your mom and dad



If your mom and dad are insatiably curious, a subscription to CuriosityStream could be the perfect gift. With more than 2,000 shows and documentaries to choose from across topics like science, nature, history, technology, society, lifestyle, travel, and more, they’ll never run out of smart, stimulating content. Learning is a lifelong activity, after all. Try it free for a month using the code winter2018 — then it’s just $2.99 after that.

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Kevin Durant Outduels James Harden as Warriors Take 2-0 Series Lead vs. Rockets

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, left, dribbles past Houston Rockets' Chris Paul during the second half of Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The Golden State Warriors needed seven games to dispatch of the Houston Rockets in last season’s Western Conference Finals, but they are already halfway to a sweep in this year’s second-round showdown following Tuesday’s 115-109 victory in Game 2 at Oracle Arena.

The two-time defending champions are also two victories away from their fifth consecutive trip to the Western Conference Finals after holding serve in the first two games at home.

All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, including Kevin Durant (29 points, five rebounds and four assists), Klay Thompson (21 points, five rebounds and three steals), Stephen Curry (20 points and five assists) and Draymond Green (15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists). 

James Harden spearheaded the Rockets’ effort with 29 points and seven rebounds, but he had six turnovers and dealt with an eye injury for much of the game.


Warriors Proving Highly Anticipated Rockets Rematch Won’t Live Up to Hype

NBA fans were robbed of some drama in last season’s Western Conference Finals when the Rockets built a 3-2 series lead over the Warriors and had the dynasty on the brink only for Chris Paul to suffer a hamstring injury and miss the final two games.

This entire season has been building toward the rematch with a healthy Paul and Harden playing at an MVP level. This was supposed to be the de facto NBA Finals and Golden State’s biggest test on the road to a three-peat.

So far, it isn’t living up to the hype.

While Game 1 was a close battle that came down to the final seconds, the actual basketball took a backseat to constant complaining about officials and debates about what defines the “landing zone” for a shooter. Paul was ejected, Harden told reporters he just wanted a “fair chance” with the refs even though he led the league in free-throw attempts by 172, and general manager Daryl Morey took to Twitter to voice his grievances.

As if that wasn’t enough, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported “the Rockets have been making a data-driven case with the NBA for quite some time that these Superteam Warriors are getting a major officiating advantage in these heavy-hitter matchups.”

While the complaining was still present following whistles in Game 2, something else became more apparent—this series likely isn’t going the full seven games because the Warriors are far more talented.

Tuesday’s showdown featured trash-talking, physicality and a handful of concerning injuries, with Curry going to the locker room with a dislocated finger and Harden getting scratched in his eye.

However, the Warriors were in control throughout the contest and left little doubt who would win even when the Rockets went on runs. That was especially the case when they were fully engaged on defense for stretches, which wasn’t always the case for a unit that finished 11th league-wide in defensive rating during the regular season, per NBA.com.

Curry drew an offensive foul on Paul, stripped Harden as he went up for a three, blocked Clint Capela and hounded No. 13 as a ball-handler on the top of the key.

Thompson caused havoc with his rotations on the perimeter, while Durant used his length to cut off passing lanes and contest shots. Green roamed like a free safety, clogging Harden’s driving angles and flying out to shooters like the four-time All-Defensive selection he is.

A decent effort on defense from Golden State saps this series of its seven-game potential since the Warriors’ lethal offense is nearly impossible to counter.

Durant put the win on ice with his mid-range game in crunch time, Thompson found his touch from deep in the third quarter, Curry created spacing even though he was only 3-of-13 from deep and Andre Iguodala and Green took advantage of the double-teams Durant drew by darting into the middle of the floor and connecting on lob and skip passes.

Most concerning for Houston: Durant, Curry and Thompson were a lackluster 23-of-56 (41.1 percent) combined from the field. They will likely shoot better than that in the coming games, further decimating Houston’s comeback chances.

The Rockets didn’t play particularly poorly in Game 2. They hit 42.5 percent of their triples and survived many of the Warriors’ best punches to remain within striking distance. But after trimming Golden State’s lead to three midway through the fourth quarter, Houston fell behind by double digits and could never close the gap.

Between Golden State’s talent disparity, the constant focus on the officiating instead of the on-court product and the daunting reality that the Warriors still have another level to reach, the much-hyped rematch appears to be headed toward a four- or five-game dud.


What’s Next?

The series shifts to Houston for Saturday’s Game 3 and Monday’s Game 4.

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UNC Charlotte begins healing, Added intrigue to Barr testimony: 5 things you need to know Wednesday

Published 4:30 a.m. ET May 1, 2019

UNC Charlotte begins healing after campus shooting

In what Chancellor Philip L. Dubois called “the worst day in the history” of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, an ex-student opened fire in a classroom building on Tuesday evening, killing two people and injuring four others. The lone suspect was identified as Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, who, according to school records, was last enrolled in fall 2018. Police disarmed and apprehended him in the room where pistol shots rang out, said Jeff Baker, the university’s police chief, crediting the officers’ actions with saving lives. Three of the injured were in critical condition at local hospitals and the fourth was stable, Baker said. The Associated Press reported that a vigil was being planned for Wednesday at the campus. In addition, the university cancelled exams, which were scheduled to begin Thursday, through the end of the week. Dubois said it was unclear when they would resume.


The University of North Carolina, Charlotte campus was on lockdown after a shooting that left at least two dead.

Added weight for Barr appearance after Mueller letter surfaces 

Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to discuss his handling of the Special Counsel’s Robert Mueller’s report examining Russian interference in the 2016 election. But Barr’s public appearance now has added weight thanks to the new information revealed Tuesday that Mueller privately objected to a summary Barr delivered to the public, clearing President Donald Trump of having obstructed the investigation, a Justice Department spokeswoman said. Mueller communicated his frustration to Barr in writing after the attorney general disclosed the special counsel’s conclusions in a summary letter to Congress on March 24. Mueller emphasized that nothing in Barr’s March 24 letter “was inaccurate or misleading, but he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the special counsel’s obstruction analysis,” a DOJ spokeswoman said in a statement. The USA TODAY Editorial board writes Barr has “his work cut out for him.”


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Couple to plead guilty in college admissions scandal

A wealthy California couple is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy charges Wednesday in Boston federal court for allegedly paying more than $600,000 in bribes to get their daughters accepted into college. Bruce and Davina Isackson, of Hillsborough, California, would become the first parents in the nation’s college admissions cheating scandal to plead guilty in court. A dozen additional parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, have signed plea agreements with the Justice Department. Prosecutors say the Isacksons paid cheating-scheme mastermind Rick Singer to get one daughter into the University of California at Los Angeles and another into the University of Southern California. The couple faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; Bruce Isackson could face an additional 20 years on money laundering charges.

Power struggle in Venezuela likely to lead to more violence, unrest

An escalating showdown between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido has sparked renewed violence and unrest in Venezuela that may continue on Wednesday. Clashes erupted Tuesday with officials loyal to Maduro saying they confronted a “coup” after Guaido called for an uprising. In a television appearance Tuesday night, Maduro declared that the opposition had attempted to impose an “illegitimate government” with the support of the United States and neighboring Colombia. Guaido countered with his own video message in which he urged Venezuelans to again take to the streets on Wednesday. The situation is extremely fluid and volatile as some experts say that if Guaido’s push does not gain momentum, the country will sink further into a dictatorship. If he succeeds, it will still be a long road to recovery for South American nation. 


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US, China officials try to resolve tariff war

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday meet with Chinese officials for talks aimed at ending a tariff war over Beijing’s trade practices. President Donald Trump last year raised U.S. duties on $250 billion of Chinese imports in response to complaints Beijing steals technology and unfairly subsidizes Chinese companies. Beijing has retaliated by raising import duties on $110 billion in U.S. goods. A Chinese team is scheduled to visit Washington next week for another round of negotiations.



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Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito vows to pursue peace in first public address

TOKYO – Emperor Naruhito inherited the sacred sword and jewel that signaled his succession and pledged in his first public address Wednesday to follow his father’s example by devoting himself to peace and sharing the people’s joys and sorrows.

Naruhito, the first modern emperor to have studied abroad and the first born after Japan’s defeat in World War II, formally succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne at midnight after his father Akihito abdicated Tuesday.

“When I think about the important responsibility I have assumed, I am filled with a sense of solemnity,” Naruhito said in his address.

While noting his father’s devotion to praying for peace, Naruhito said he’ll “reflect deeply” on the path trodden by Akihito and past emperors. He promised to abide by the constitution that stripped emperors of political power, and to fulfill his responsibility as a national symbol while “always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them.”

“I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world,” he said.

Naruhito is considered a new breed of royal, his outlook forged by the tradition-defying choices of his parents. Emperor Emeritus Akihito devoted his three-decade career to making amends for a war fought in his father’s name while bringing the aloof monarchy closer to the people. Naruhito’s mother, Michiko, was born a commoner and was Catholic educated. Together, they reached out to the people, especially those who faced disability, discrimination and natural disasters.

Naruhito was presented with the Imperial sword and jewel, each in a box and wrapped in cloth, at a morning ceremony that marked his first official duty.

More: Japan’s Emperor Akihito announces abdication in final address to his people

His wife and daughter, Empress Masako and 17-year-old Princess Aiko, were barred from the ceremony, which only adult male royals – his brother, now Crown Prince Fumihito, and his uncle Prince Hitachi – were allowed to witness. Their guests included a female Cabinet minister, however, as the Imperial House Law has no provision on the gender of commoners in attendance.

The banning of female royals at the ceremony underscored the uncertain future of a paternalistic imperial family that now has just two heirs.

Nevertheless, Japan festively celebrated an imperial succession prompted by retirement rather than death. Many people stood outside the palace Tuesday to reminisce about Akihito’s era; others joined midnight events when the transition occurred, and more came to celebrate the beginning of Naruhito’s reign.

Dozens of couples lined up at government offices to submit marriage documents to mark the first day of Naruhito’s era, known as Reiwa, or “beautiful harmony.”

Natsumi Nishimura, a 27-year-old saleswoman, and Keigo Mori, a 32- year-old government worker, were at a Tokyo office on Wednesday, saying they decided to tie the knot at the start of a new era to mark their new life together.

“Opportunities like this don’t come by often so we thought it would be a day we won’t forget,” Nishimura said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe congratulated Naruhito on his ascension, pledging to create a “bright future” during the new era that is peaceful and full of hope.

Naruhito also received congratulations from abroad. President Donald Trump’s message said America and Japan will renew the bonds of friendship in the new era. Xi was quoted by state media as saying China and Japan should work together to promote peace and development and bilateral ties.

From a car window on his way to and from the palace, Naruhito smiled and waved at people cheering on the sidewalk. He and his family will continue living at the crown prince’s Togu Palace until they switch places with his parents after refurbishments.

Naruhito, 59, is the nation’s 126th emperor, according to a palace count that historians say likely included mythical figures until around the 5th century.

The emperor under Japan’s Constitution is a symbol without political power. Wartime militarist governments worshipped the emperor as a living god until Naruhito’s grandfather renounced that status after Japan’s 1945 war defeat.

Akihito during his three-decade reign embraced an identity as peacemaker and often made reconciliatory missions and carefully scripted expressions of regret on the war. His immersion in that role leaves Naruhito largely free of the burden of the wartime legacy, allowing him to carve his own path.

Palace watchers say he might focus on global issues, including disaster prevention, water conservation and climate change, which could appeal to younger Japanese, while also emulating his father’s focus on peace.

That’s what many Japanese hope Naruhito will pursue.

“I hope the new emperor will be like the Heisei Emperor (Akihito), who cherishes peace,” said Takayori Kobayakawa, a 71-year-old retiree who came from Shizuoka, central Japan. “I have high hopes for him.”

Naruhito also faces uncertainties in the imperial household. Crown Prince Fumihito, 53, and Fumihito’s 12-year-old son, Prince Hisahito, can currently succeed him. The Imperial House Law confines the succession to male heirs, leaving Naruhito’s daughter out of the running.

Naruhito’s wife Empress Masako is a Harvard-educated former diplomat who may prove an adept partner in his overseas travels and activities. But much will depend on her health, since she has been recovering from what the palace describes as stress-induced depression for about 15 years.


AP journalists Kaori Hitomi, Haruka Nuga and Richard Colombo contributed to this report.


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