Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino has formally been declared as the first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne in the traditional rituals in Tokyo on Sunday. The ceremonies had been delayed for seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother vowed to fufill his duties to Japan in the 15-minute Rikkoshi no Rei rite which consists of imperial succession rituals.
On Sunday morning in the Matsu no Ma stateroom of the Imperial Palace, Emperor Naruhito declared his brother as the first in line to the throne during the Rikkoshi Senmei no Gi ceremony. The Emperor wore the traditional brown robe while the Crown Prince was in a darker orange robe. Empress Masako and Crown Princess Kiko were also in attendance, as were other adult members of the Imperial Family and 46 guests.
Crown Prince Akishino read from a script in front of the Emperor where he said: “I will discharge my duties solemnly bearing in mind my responsibilities as crown prince.”
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gave a congratulatory message, called the yogoto, in which he remarked: “The (Japanese) people have revered the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess after seeing how they have shown kindness in their interactions with people, so it is a pleasure to see the Rikkoshi no Rei being held.”
The traditional event was due to be held on 19 April and have 350 people, but the coronavirus caused the delayed rites to be significantly scaled-down.
Later on Sunday afternoon, the Choken no Gi ceremony took place with the Crown Prince thanking his older brother and sister-in-law. The Emperor then spoke to his brother saying: “It is my hope that you will meet the expectations of the people and successfully fulfill your duties as crown prince, fully drawing on what you have cultivated.”
Crown Prince Akishino also inherited the imperial sword that is passed down by crown princes to show their new status.
Court banquets and the signing of congratulatory books at the Imperial Palace for the public were cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have one child, a daughter named Princess Aiko. The Princess is not in line to the throne as females are not allowed to reign in their own right; they also have to leave the Imperial Family and renounce their titles upon marriage to commoners.