Photo/IllutrationChief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, second from right, foreground, at the meeting of the government’s council for preparations of the ceremonies for enthronement in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on March 30 (Takeshi Iwashita)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Crown Prince Naruhito’s ceremony to proclaim enthronement to Japan and abroad will take place on Oct. 22, 2019, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced on March 30.

The “sokuirei seiden no gi” ceremony on that date, part of a series of accession ceremonies collectively known as “sokui no rei” (ceremonies of enthronement), will proclaim the enthronement of Emperor Akihito’s eldest son and receive felicitations of representatives from home and abroad.

The event will come almost five months after Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019, the day after Akihito’s scheduled abdication.

The government’s council for preparations of the ceremonies for enthronement, which is headed by Suga, held its final meeting earlier that day to decide the basic policy for a series of such events and their dates.

The ceremony date of Oct. 22, 2019, is expected to be formally approved by the Cabinet on April 3, after which more detailed planning will accelerate.

Following the council’s decision, the government will set up the committee for ceremonies of the enthronement, to be headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, this autumn to discuss the outline of the implementation guidelines for each ceremony.

The council’s agreed basic policy says, “Each ceremony should adhere to the intentions of the Constitution, and traditions of the imperial family should be paid regard.”

When Akihito ascended the throne in 1989, there was debate over the coherence of staging a series of ceremonies with principles of popular sovereignty and the separation of religion and politics stipulated by the Constitution.

The basic policy concluded, “During the transition to the Heisei Era, ceremonies were implemented after enough discussions had been made under the current Constitution. We should follow the basic concept and what was done during the previous succession.”

“Taiirei seiden no gi,” the ceremony to proclaim the abdication of an emperor to Japan and the rest of the world, will take place under the Japanese history of constitutional politics for the first time on April 30, 2019.

Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne in the “kenji to shokei no gi,” the accession ceremony to mark his inheritance of the Imperial Regalia and the State and Privy Seals on May 1, 2019.

“Shukuga onretsu no gi,” the procession to show the new emperor to the people of Japan and to receive their good wishes, will be held on Oct. 22, 2019, the same day as the “sokuirei seiden no gi” ceremony.

The “kyoen no gi,” a series of court banquets to celebrate the enthronement and receive the congratulations of guests, will also start that day or after.

Prince Fumihito will become the new crown prince and first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne. The first “rikkoshi no rei,” the state ceremony to mark his inheritance of the position, will be held in 2020.

As for kenji to shokei no gi, Suga said during the news conference that female imperial family members, who cannot ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne, will not be allowed to attend the ceremony.

Officials of the Imperial Household Agency said during the council meeting that it would be favorable to hold the “daijokyu no gi” ceremony between Nov. 14 and 15, 2019.

The core ritual of a series of “daijosai” events, “daijokyu no gi,” is a ceremony that follows the enthronement in which the emperor offers new rice to the imperial ancestor and to the Tenjin Chigi (the deities of heaven and earth), and partakes in it himself, giving thanks and praying for peace and abundant harvests for the country and the people.

The ritual will be held, with the prime minister in attendance, at a new Daijokyu hall that will be built in the Imperial Palace’s East Garden.

(This article was written by Yuki Nikaido, Takahiro Okubo and Yasuhiko Shima.)