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Basic plan for Japanese Imperial succession to be compiled by March

A basic plan for Emperor Akihito’s abdication is to be compiled by March. The plan will have information on the ceremonies due to take place before his abdication as well as ceremonies related to the accession of Crown Prince Naruhito.

Yoshihide Suga, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, is leading a group that is preparing the succession ceremonies.

The committees made up of government officials as well as a member of the Imperial Household Agency. The committee hopes to hear the opinions of experts on history and Imperial matters.

Suga said: “We will swiftly compile our basic policy to prepare for the events, including the enthronement ceremony, in a comprehensive and well-planned manner.”

One of the major issues that will be dealt with by the committee is how to avoid conflict with the Constitution.

Article 4 bans the emperor from having political power. However, government officials are worried that if an agent reads out the reason for the Emperor’s ascension(which is in line with ceremonial tradition), this would then suggest he is abdicating because of his own decision, which would violate the supreme law.

Emperor Akihito has expressed his desire for the ceremony to be as “simple as possible.” He does not want foreign officials invited, nor does he want a parade. Public appearances by Emperor Akihito were rare during his reign and he has no plans to appear before the public when he abdicates.

Emperor Akihito will be handing the Chrysanthemum Throne over to Crown Prince Naruhito in April 2019. He is stepping down as he believes his health and age would make it difficult to complete the duties expected of him. He has previously received heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer.

A one-off piece of legislation had to be implemented to allow his abdication in favour of his son. The Imperial House has no way to abdicate.

He will be the first Emperor to abdicate in over two centuries.

His abdication will bring about the end of the Heisei era. A new Imperial Era will begin upon being succeeded by his son.