TOKYO, Kyodo - The Japanese government said Tuesday it will invite guests from up to 195 nations for events in the fall to mark Crown Prince Naruhito’s enthronement, including banquets, following his father Emperor Akihito’s abdication scheduled for next month.
At the abdication ceremony starting at 5 p.m. on April 30, to be attended by about 300 guests including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet members, the premier will offer words of gratitude before the 85-year-old emperor speaks to the representatives of the people, the government said.
Foreign guests at the fall events will include heads of states and people of Japanese descent from countries Japan has officially recognized as states. “The Foreign Ministry will study to which countries it will actually send invitations,” a senior government official said.
In the previous “Sokuirei Seiden no gi” ceremony held in November 1990 to proclaim the enthronement of the current emperor, 474 guests from 158 nations and two international organizations were among total participants of some 2,200.
Among the events for the new emperor, a banquet to be hosted by Abe and his wife Akie on Oct. 23 will stage Japanese cultural performances, which will be overseen by Kyogen actor Nomura Mansai, the government said.
The 52-year-old leading performer of the Japanese traditional comic drama is a supervisor of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics opening and closing ceremonies. The previous banquet in 1990 to celebrate the current emperor’s enthronement also featured Kabuki and Noh performances.
“We will make thorough preparations so that we can observe our country’s historic turning point without any trouble,” Abe said at a governmental meeting on Tuesday.
On appointment of Nomura as general adviser for the banquet, the government official explained the actor is “the most suitable person from the standpoint of entertaining foreign guests with Japanese traditional culture.” The party is expected to draw around 900 guests from home and abroad.
The emperor expressed his desire to resign in a rare video message in August 2016, citing concern that he might not be able to fulfill official duties due to his advanced age.
In June 2017, Japan enacted one-off legislation enabling him to step down as the first monarch to do so in the country in around 200 years, to be succeeded by his 59-year-old elder son.
On the morning of May 1, the new emperor will inherit traditional regalia such as the sacred sword and jewels as proof of ascension to the throne in the “Kenji to Shokei no gi” ceremony.
Later in the day, he will meet the representatives of the public for the first time since the accession to the throne in the “Sokui go Choken no gi” rite.
Male guests at both rituals are supposed to wear tailcoats but in the “Taiirei Seiden no gi” farewell ceremony to mark the emperor’s abdication on April 30, the dress code for them will be morning coats, while female guests will be asked to wear long dresses, the government said.
As an alternative choice, attendants can also wear formal kimono, it added. (Kyodo)