The Imperial Household Agency in Japan has announced that Emperor Akihito will not perform the Ritual Ceremonies of the Imperial Palace after his abdication 30 April 2019 at the age of 85. These ceremonies are held at the three different Imperial Palace Sanctuaries in Japan.
The ritual ceremonies, of which approximately 20 are performed per year, are “religious rites to pray for the peace of the nation,” according to The Mainichi. It is customary that the reigning emperor and empress, alongside the crown prince and princess, perform such rites.
Current Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, who by then will be Emperor and Empress, will perform the ritual ceremonies – which are not considered official duties due to the separation of church and state. They will do so alongside Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko. Prince Akishino is not expected to take the title of crown prince, but he will still perform the duties and receive the treatment of the title.
Akishino will be first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne, and his son, 11-year-old Prince Hisahito will follow him in the line of succession. Naruhito and Masako’s daughter, along with Akishino and Kiko’s daughters are not eligible to succeed the throne. At the moment, there are only four members of the Japanese Imperial Family who can ascend the throne. Fourth in line is 82-year-old Prince Hitachi.
83-year-old Emperor Akihito announced his desire to abdicate in a televised address in July 2016. It will be the first abdication in almost 200 years, the last being Emperor Kōkaku in 1817. In June of this year, the National Diet approved the bill for his abdication citing that it must take place within three years and only applies to Emperor Akihito.
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.
After Emperor Akihito’s abdication, he will be called joko and Empress Michiko will be known as jokogo.