Japan is set to hold its proclamation ceremonies for Crown Prince Fumihito on 8 November even as the country continues to battle COVID-19.
There had been much debate on when the ceremonies would take place due to the pandemic, but the government decided they could take place in November after being postponed from April.
The new Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, said last week: “We would like to make thorough preparations while carefully taking measures against the novel coronavirus so that the Rikkoshi no rei ceremonies marking the last of the slew of ceremonies for the imperial succession will be carried out smoothly with people’s blessings.”
The “Rikkoshi no rei” ceremonies will officially proclaim Fumihito as the first in line to the throne. Due to the pandemic and to reduce the risk of infection, those invited have been reduced from 350 to around 50, and there will be no buffet banquet.
The government has said that after the ceremonies they will begin discussing ways to stabilise the succession as the members of the Imperial Family continue to dwindle. Currently, the law requires the princesses who marry commoners to renounce their titles and leave the Imperial House upon their marriage.
Fumihito is the younger brother of Emperor Naruhito who took the throne on 1 May 2019 after the abdication of their father, Emperor Akihito on 30 April. He was the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in nearly 200 years, and a special law had to be passed to allow for the abdication. Akihito is now known as the Emperor Emeritus.
Japan does not allow women to ascend the throne meaning Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s only child, 18-year-old Princess Aiko, is not in the line of succession. The Crown Prince is followed in the line of succession by his third child and only son, Prince Hisahito. Third and last in the line of succession is Emperor Emeritus Akihito’s 84-year-old brother, Prince Hitachi.