Emperor is to abdicate on April 30, 2019

On 1st December, the Imperial House Council was held at the special conference room of Imperial Household Agency to decide the date of the abdication of HM Emperor Akihito.

The Imperial House Council is consist of Two Imperial Family Members, the Speaker and Vice Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the House of Councilors, the Prime Minister, the Grand Steward of the Imperial Household Agency, and the Chief Justice and one other justice of the Supreme Court.

HIH Prince Masahito and HIH Princess Hanako of Hitachi attended the Council as the Imperial Family Members.

Council sets abdication of Emperor for April 30, 2019

Text from Japan News

The Emperor is to abdicate on April 30, 2019, the Imperial House Council decided at a meeting on Friday morning.

The meeting was held at a special conference room of the Imperial Household Agency’s building, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe heard opinions about the date of abdication for the Emperor from the chiefs of both chambers of the Diet, Imperial family members and others. At the meeting, they decided the Emperor will abdicate on April 30, 2019 (the 31st year of the Heisei era).

Based on the opinion, the government will formally decide a government ordinance providing the date of abdication at a Cabinet meeting on Dec. 8.

The schedules of the “abdication on April 30, 2019, and the succession by the crown prince to the throne and the change of era on May 1, 2019,” were decided.

Japan is facing a great turning point with the abdication, the first such event in about 200 years since the abdication of Emperor Kokaku in 1817.

The meeting was held behind closed doors and lasted about an hour and 15 minutes from 9:45 a.m. to around 11 a.m. The inside of the conference room was shown to media outlets only just before the meeting began.

After the meeting, Abe reported the summary of the meeting’s results to the Emperor at the Imperial Palace. Subsequently, Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office, “The opinion of the Imperial House Council was decided smoothly, and I am quite impressed by the great progress made toward an Imperial succession.”

Abe also emphasized: “Based on the opinion of the Imperial House Council, we will swiftly establish a government ordinance providing the implementation date [of the special measures law on abdication]. At the same time, we will make all-out efforts to realize the smooth succession by the crown prince with the blessing of the people.” Abe also issued similar comments in a statement.

New era to start May 1

At the council, Abe asked each participant to express their opinions. Then, Abe proposed a plan favoring the “abdication on April 30, 2019, and succession by the crown prince on May 1, 2019,” which was decided based on political schedules, such as the unified local elections to be conducted in the spring of 2019.

While the government had considered a plan of the “abdication on March 31, 2019, and the change of era on April 1, 2019,” the government did not adopt the plan because many people will be relocating during that period due to corporate transfers and starting higher education.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will report the opinion of the Imperial House Council to a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The government plans to decide a government ordinance providing the implementation date of the special measures law, or abdication date, at a Cabinet meeting Friday. After the abdication date is formally set, the government will start full discussions on the details of abdication and succession ceremonies. To this end, the government plans to establish a study panel headed by Suga as early as the beginning of next year. The new era name will be announced within next year before the abdication takes place.

Ten participants attended the meeting, including Abe, who chaired the meeting, House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima and Vice Speaker Hirotaka Akamatsu, House of Councillors President Chuichi Date and Vice President Akira Gunji, Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Shinichiro Yamamoto, Supreme Court Chief Justice Itsuro Terada and Supreme Court Justice Kiyoko Okabe. From the government, Suga also participated as a nonofficial member only to provide explanations.

From the Imperial family, Prince and Princess Hitachi attended the meeting. Prince Akishino, the original Imperial family member who was to attend the meeting, did not attend as the special measures law concerning the abdication involved his own status. Therefore, Prince Hitachi participated in the meeting.

A meeting of the Imperial House Council has not been held in 24 years, or since January 1993, when the marriage of Crown Prince Naruhito was decided. The special measures law to allow abdication only for the current Emperor makes it mandatory to hear the opinion of the Imperial House Council before deciding on the abdication date.

Under the Imperial House Law, the Imperial House Council is a state decision-making body to discuss important issues involving the Imperial family such as marriages of male Imperial family members and the appointment of a regent. Since the end of World War II, the council has held seven meetings — six for discussing marriages of male Imperial family members and one for the renouncement of Imperial status by Imperial branches. This was the first time for the council to discuss the Imperial succession. An outline of the meeting’s minutes will be disclosed later on.

Photo from Sankei1 and 2


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Duck Netting

On 1st December, HIH Princess Mako of Akishino and HIH Princess Hisako of Takamdo enjoyed the duck netting as the reception for the diplomatic missions resident in Japan took place at Saitama Kamoba in Saitama Prefecture.

Photo from Asahi

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Princess Aiko turns 16

On 1st December, HIH Princess Aiko turned 16 years old.

On 16th birthday, Princess Aiko says she’s enjoying school life and growing into Imperial role

Text from Japan Times

As Princess Aiko turned 16 on Friday, the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako was said to be enjoying high school life and striving to better fulfill her role as a member of the Imperial family.

Over the past year, she has accompanied her parents on official duties and met members of foreign royal families. Her health has improved since last fall, when she appeared fatigued.

During a holiday in May, the princess showed strong interest watching a game of wheelchair basketball with her parents.

She also accompanied her parents’ greeting of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria, Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, as well as Bhutan Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck during their visits to Japan, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

On the anniversaries of Japan’s surrender in World War II and the Great East Japan Earthquake, the princess observed moments of silence. She also listened to her parents’ accounts of their visit to disaster-hit Miyagi Prefecture in November.

The princess has attended Gakushuin Girls’ Senior High School since April, after graduating from the junior high school located on the same campus in Tokyo.

Due to fatigue, she was absent from junior high school for a six-week period last year, but her condition has improved over the past year, according to the agency.

The princess does not engage in any club activities, but was active in athletic meets and cultural festivals. She often talks to her parents about her school life, the agency said.

Princess Aiko is not eligible to ascend the throne, which is restricted to males under the Imperial House Law.

Photo from Asahi

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Prince Akishino turns 52

On 30th November, HIH Prince Fumihito of Akishino turned 52 years old.

Prince Akishino says he’s ‘relieved’ abdication law was enacted for Emperor

Text from Japan Times

Prince Akishino, the younger son of Emperor Akihito, turned 52 on Thursday, and said he is “relieved” that an abdication law was enacted in June to allow the Emperor to pass the throne to his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

“I hope (Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko) will spend time relaxing” after the 83-year-old Emperor’s abdication, Prince Akishino said at a news conference on Nov. 22, prior to his birthday.

At the same time, Prince Akishino dismissed concerns over possible dual authority between the new and old monarchs.

“I can say clearly that it is impossible” that there would be dual authority, as the Emperor plans to pass on all of his public duties to the new Emperor, he said.

Concerns over the possible dual authority arose with details of the post-retirement roles for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko remaining undefined. Historically, Japan has seen ample cases of emperors exercising considerable political authority after they retired.

After the Emperor’s abdication, and once his older brother ascends to the throne, Prince Akishino will become first in line. Regarding his hopes, the prince said, “As it is unprecedented, there are many things that I cannot imagine. I presume (the new duties) would be done through trial and error.”

The prince said he hopes to take on the duties executed by Crown Prince Naruhito “as much as possible.” But concerning who will take on his own current duties, the prince said he needs to consult with the Crown Prince.

Regarding his eldest daughter, Princess Mako, 26, and her fiance and former university classmate, Kei Komuro, Prince Akishino said his impression of Komuro is that the fiance is “extremely honest.”

“I have met him a number of times but my impression of him has not changed,” the prince said.

The prince’s wife, Princess Kiko, 51, who also attended the press conference said Komuro had played the piano the other day after she requested it. “We shared time relaxing, listening to the gentle sound,” she said.

“I sincerely hope that the two will build and experience a happy life together,” Princess Kiko added. The couple’s wedding will be held next Nov. 4.

The prince said that he hopes to respect future decisions by his 22-year-old second daughter, Princess Kako, regarding marriage, as he has with Princess Mako. Princess Kako is now studying in Britain.

Photo from Asahi1 and 2

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State Guest from Luxembourg Vol.3

On 29th November, the members of Imperial Family attended the concert held by HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg took place at State Guest House in Tokyo.

After the concert, HM Emperor Akihito and HM Empress Michiko bid farewell to HRH Grand Duke Henri and HRH Princess Alexandra.

Photo from Asahi

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State Guest from Luxembourg Vol.2

On 28th November, HM Emperor Akihito and HM Empress Michiko visited JAXA (Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency) in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture with HRH Grand Duke Henri and HRH Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg.

They took the Imperial Train from Tokyo Station to Tsuchiura Station.

They attended the welcoming ceremony took place in Tsuchiura City.

Photo from Asahi1 and 2

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State Guest from Luxembourg Vol.1

On 27th November, HM Emperor Akihito, HM Empress Michiko, HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako attended the welcoming ceremony for HRH Grand Duke Henri as the State Guest and HRH Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg took place at the East Garden of Imperial Palace.

Imperial Audience

At the evening, Their Majesties held the Imperial Banquet for them at Imperial Palace.

Remarks by His Majesty the Emperor at the State Banquet in Honour of His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (November 27, 2017)

Text from Imperial Household Agency

I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, who is visiting our country as a State Guest, together with Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, in this memorable year when we are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I am truly delighted to be able to spend this evening here with you. We regret that Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was not able to accompany the Grand Duke this time because of her health. We pray for her good health from the depths of our hearts.

Sixty-four years ago, in 1953, I attended the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. I was 19 years old. It was there that I first met your father, His Royal Highness Jean, former Grand Duke of Luxembourg, who was attending the Coronation as the Hereditary Grand Duke, together with Her Royal Highness Princess Josephine Charlotte.

Subsequently, the former Grand Duke and Grand Duchess have visited Japan a number of times beginning in 1979, including on the occasions of the Funeral of Emperor Showa and my Enthronement Ceremony, and the Empress and I have had the pleasure of seeing them every time they were in our country. Moreover, on each of our two visits to Luxembourg, the Empress and I received warm and gracious hospitality from Their Royal Highnesses former Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte, as well as Your Royal Highnesses, who were then the Hereditary Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, and other members of your family. It is our great joy that the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg and the Imperial Family of Japan have enjoyed many years of close friendship in this way.

Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke has shown a strong interest in our country from a young age, and I have been told that you conducted research on Japan during your university years. You have visited Japan many times since your first visit in 1981 as newly-weds with Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, and you contributed much to developing the relations between our two countries. I would once again like to express my delight at being able to welcome Your Royal Highness as a State Guest.

Located in the centre of Europe, Luxembourg has endured many trials and tribulations of history but has maintained its independence thanks to the solidarity of its people. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of London, which established Luxembourg as a permanently neutral and unarmed state. In the decades following World War II, your country has consistently assumed an important role in the drive toward European integration. You have also produced many leaders for Europe, including the current President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker.

Furthermore, Luxembourg has successfully made a transition of its industrial structure, from an economy led by the iron and steel industry, which used to be the engine of its economy, to an international financial centre, developing into one of the world’s most affluent welfare states. More recently, it has been diversifying into newer industries, such as information and communications technology, logistics, and space technology. Tomorrow, the Empress and I will be accompanying Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke and Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra on their visit to the Tsukuba Space Centre for a tour of its facilities.

Diplomatic relations between Luxembourg and Japan began in 1927, when Mineichiro Adachi, the first Minister of Japan to Luxembourg, presented his credentials to Grand Duchess Charlotte, Your Royal Highness’s grandmother, and over the 90 years since then, our two countries have developed friendly and cooperative relations. In recent years, in addition to political and economic relations, bilateral exchanges have been expanding by leaps and bounds in the areas of academics, culture, and tourism, including exchanges between the University of Luxembourg and universities in Japan. It gives me great pleasure to see that mutual understanding has been deepening further between the peoples of our two countries.

We are now approaching the end of autumn here in Japan, and trees are ablaze with autumn colours. I hope that the stay of Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke and Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra in Japan will be a most memorable one that serves to further promote the friendly and cooperative relations between our two countries.

I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke, and to the happiness of the people of Luxembourg.

HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako

HIH Princess Mako of Akishino

Photo from Sankei, Asahi1 and 2

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Conference for Sustainability

On 25th November, HIH Crown Prince Naruhito attended the International Conference on Science and Technology for Sustainability 2017 took place in Tokyo.

Photo from Sankei

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Nagasaki and Saga Visit of Princess Akishino

From 23rd November to 24th November, HIH Princess Kiko of Akishino visited Nagasaki and Saga Prefecture. On 23rd November, HIH Princess Kiko visited Peas Park in Nagasaki City with HRH Princess Laurentien of the Kingdom of Netherland and offered flowers to the memorial cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims.

On 24th November, HIH Princess Kiko and HRH Princess Laurentien visited the facility of  ceramics in Arita Town, Saga Prefecture.

On that day, HIH Prince Fumihito and HIH Princess Kiko of Akishino and HRH Princess Laurentien attended the opening ceremony of the bridge between the site of Dejima and the other side took place in Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture. Dejima was the Dutch trading post notable for being the single place of direct trade and exchange between Japan and the outside world during the 17th – 19th century.

Photo from Asahi1, 2 and 3

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Bethel Institute

On 24th November, HM Empress Michiko visited the photo exhibition of Bethel Institute of Germany commemorating the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the institution took place in Tokyo. Their Majesties once visited Bethel Institute when they visited Germany in 1993.

Photo from Asahi

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