The number of audiences and meetings attended by Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko held at the Imperial Palace are to be significantly reduced within the next year, it was reported by a Japanese news agency last week. Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako will undertake some of these duties instead.
The official duties will be reduced to about ten, as reported by the Emperial Household Agency. The Emperor and Empress received 270 visits to the Emperial palace last year alone. After visiting the Phillipines in January, the royal couple’s schedules were reviewed, mainly to reduce the number of “haietsu” audiences at the palace. Eight visits by police heads, chief public prosecutors, chief judges and local assembly heads will be terminated. Whereas meetings with primary and secondary school principals are concerned, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako will carry them out.
The royal couple are in their ’80’s and have approved these changes in their schedules.
Despite this news, Their Imperial Majesties have been quite busy this month, attending several events and official engagements. May 11th saw the Emperor conferring orders at the Imperial Palace.
The next day, on the 12th, both the Emperor and Empress attended an exhibition by renowned Japanese painter, Seiki Kuroda. This day was perhaps also one of great ceremony and nostalgia for the Imperial couple. They attended an event in Tokyo to commemorate the 100th anniversery of the formation of the International Karuizawa Tennis Tournament. Throughout their lives, Their Imperial Majesties have been keen tennis players and observers. It’s no wonder that almost 60 years ago, they met during a tennis match.
Later that evening, Their Imperial Majesties attended a concert held by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This is the orchestra’s 21st tour of Japan. The Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in the Shinjuku-ku district saw the Empress attend a concert on her own this past Tuesday evening. She arrived to hear Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich play Beethoven.