The abdication ceremony of Emperor Akihito in April 2019 will be a state occasion. The Japanese government made the announcement on Tuesday, 20 February.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga headed the panel which decided to also have a ceremony at the National Theater in Tokyo that celebrates 30 years of His Imperial Majesty’s reign on 24 February 2019, reported the Japan Times. This will be the first Japanese occasion of this sort in some 200 years.
The same panel has also elected to “hold an event in 2020 to commemorate the promotion of the Emperor’s younger son, Prince Akishino, to kōshi, the title given to the first in line to the throne,” the Japan Times added.
The aforementioned decisions are expected to be incorporated into their plans for organising the abdication and succession. Plans are supposed to be compiled by the middle of March.
Emperor Akihito will abdicate at the Imperial Palace on 30 April 2019 with his oldest child, Crown Prince Naruhito ascending to the throne the next day, 1 May 2019. Akihito will give a final address to the Japanese people during the abdication ceremony. Sources have indicated that the name for the new era after the Crown Prince ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne may not be released until the end of this year or even later.
At the end of May 2017, Japan’s National Diet, the country’s bicameral legislature, passed a law to allow 84-year-old Emperor to abdicate. His Imperial Majesty will be the first monarch in Japan to abdicate for nearly 200 years.
The Imperial Household Act did not allow for abdication; this led to the Japanese government to create a new law to enable it for the Emperor. The new law states that the abdication must take place within three years, and it only applies to Emperor Akihito.
Emperor Akihito announced his intent to abdicate in a rare televised address to the nation in August 2016. He cited his old age and health as his reason for stepping down.