Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a Jan. 17 meeting held to discuss details of various events related to the abdication of Emperor Akihito. (Takeshi Iwashita)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Emperor Akihito will give a speech at his abdication ceremony while women for the first time will be allowed to attend an accession-related event for the crown prince.

Top officials at a Jan. 17 meeting agreed on these and other details for various ceremonies related to Akihito’s abdication and the accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne by his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

The abdication ceremony for Akihito, 85, the first for Japan as a constitutional democracy, will be held on April 30 as an official state event.

About 340 people are expected to attend, including the heads of the three branches of government, Cabinet ministers and local representatives.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will give a speech as the representative of the Japanese people, and Akihito will deliver his final address as emperor.

The abdication ceremony will take place at the Matsu-no-Ma state room within the Imperial Palace. The sacred sword and jewels considered to be the traditional properties that symbolize the emperor's position will be on display there.

The Kenji-to-Shokei-no-Gi, a ceremony in which Naruhito inherits the traditional properties to attest to his accession, will be held on May 1.

Prince Fumihito, Naruhito’s younger brother who will become crown prince on the same day, and Prince Hitachi, Akihito’s younger brother, will oversee the handing over of the traditional properties.

In keeping with past practice, only adult males who are in line to succeed the emperor will be allowed to sit in on the ceremony. No female imperial household members will attend.

However, that restriction will not apply to the other 26 participants in the ceremony. If any woman holds a position to which invitations are extended, she will be allowed to attend, marking a first for the ceremony.

Details were also approved for other ceremonies scheduled for this year.

An event will be held on Feb. 24 to mark the 30th anniversary of Akihito’s accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Okinawa-born singer Daichi Miura will sing “Utagoe no Hibiki” (Resounding of singing voices), which was composed by Akihito and Empress Michiko after they met with residents of a Hansen’s disease sanitarium in the southern prefecture.

Speeches on behalf of the public will be given by Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and Yoriko Kawaguchi, a former foreign minister who was the first woman to serve as the lead accompanying official on an overseas visit by Akihito.

The Jan. 17 meeting also approved the use of a Toyota Century model car for the ceremonial procession that will be held in autumn to celebrate Naruhito’s becoming emperor. The vehicle will be redesigned into a convertible.