Outline set for ceremonies around Japanese Emperor’s abdication

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - ​The government decided Thursday on an outline for ceremonies related to the Emperor’s abdication on April 30 and Crown Prince Naruhito’s accession to the throne the following day.

The committee overseeing the ceremonies held its third meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on the day. Toyota Motor Corp.’s highest-grade Century sedan was chosen as the convertible that will carry the new emperor and empress during the Shukuga Onretsu no Gi parade Oct. 22.

The Taiirei Seiden no Gi abdication ceremony, to be held for the first time under a constitutional government, will begin at 5 p.m. on April 30, taking into account the time when the Emperor’s official duties will end. 

Sacred objects that have been handed down with the Imperial throne, including a sword and a comma-shaped jewel called magatama, will be placed at the site of the ceremony.

Male participants will be dressed in such clothes as morning coats and the Japanese formal attire of a haori coat and hakama trousers with a family crest, while female participants will be dressed in such clothes as long dresses and white-collared kimono with a family crest.

The Kenji to Shokei no Gi will be the first ceremony to be attended by the new emperor, during which he will take possession of the sacred objects. This ceremony will be held from 10:30 a.m. on May 1.

Attendance among the Imperial family will be limited to adult males, as it was at the previous such ceremony when the Heisei era began. Prince Akishino, who will become “Koshi,” the status for the first in line to the Imperial throne, and Prince Hitachi, the third in line, will attend. 

Female participation for the ceremony will be allowed among the heads of the three branches of government and Cabinet ministers. Among the current ministers, Satsuki Katayama, minister for regional revitalization, is expected to attend the ceremony.

The Sokuigo Choken no Gi, a ceremony in which the new emperor meets with representatives of the people for the first time after his enthronement, will start at 11:10 a.m. on May 1. A total of 338 people, including the heads of the three branches and representatives of local governments, will be invited to attend the Choken no Gi and Taiirei Seiden no Gi ceremonies.

These events will be held in the Matsu no Ma state room of the Imperial Palace and are expected to last about 10 minutes each. 

The convertible to be used in the Shukuga Onretsu no Gi parade will be a Toyota Century that has been modified from a commercially available version. In choosing the vehicle, the government consulted with a total of six Japanese, British and German automakers. Among them, five automakers made proposals. 

It is believed that only Century fulfilled all the conditions required by the government, including being available in Japan, and offering high safety and environmental performance.

The committee also decided on the program for a government-sponsored ceremony to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the reign of the Emperor, to be held on Feb. 24 in Tokyo.

Gov. Masao Uchibori of Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi will deliver the “address of the national representatives.” Kawaguchi is the only woman to have accompanied the Emperor and Empress overseas as a chief attendant.