Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako of Japan were in the suburban city of Chofu, western Tokyo, this past weekend to attend the 42nd “Zenkoku Ikujusai” national tree festival awards ceremony at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.
The national tree festival event promotes the conservation and protection of Japan’s forests and has been a constant in Crown Prince’s Naruhito for decades. In a speech to the gathered assembly at the award ceremony, the Crown Prince said: “I hope a culture of growing forests, using trees in our lives and coexisting with trees will spread widely from here in Tokyo to the whole of Japan, and to the next generation.”
The ceremony highlighted the hard work of individuals who have made significant contributions to forestry and the Crown Prince Couple took the opportunity to encourage the next generation, calling on them to “please stay active”, planting trees and promoting the healthy growth of Japan’s forestry.
A day earlier, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako rolled up their sleeves at Sea Forest Park in Tokyo where they scattered fertiliser and pruned trees previously planted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in 1988. They were joined by local schoolchildren who had planted trees as part of the festival events.
This year’s national tree festival marked a significant milestone as it will be the last time Naruhito attends as Crown Prince. The Japanese royal is set to accede to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May 2019, succeeding his father as Emperor following the abdication of Emperor Akihito on 30 April 2019.
The Japanese government announced the current Emperor’s intention to abdicate on 1 December 2017, the first time in Japan’s history that an abdication has been made public in advance. Naruhito will become the 126th emperor of the world’s oldest monarchy and will likely undertake his enthronement ceremony in October of 2019.