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Emperor could move to Akasaka Estate in Tokyo after abdication

The east residence of Prince Mikasa (former residence of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa), foreground left, the residence of Prince Akishino, foreground right, and the State Guest House, background, are seen in Tokyo's Minato Ward in this April 8, 2014 file photo. (Mainichi)

The Imperial Household Agency is considering the possibility of the Emperor moving from the Imperial Palace to the Akasaka Estate upon abdication, agency sources have told the Mainichi Shimbun.

If the next emperor were to move into the existing Imperial Residence, a new residence wouldn't need to be constructed on the palace grounds in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. The move was suggested to restrain expenses, sources say.

Under the proposal being considered by the agency, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko would move to the estate in Tokyo's Minato Ward, where other members of the Imperial Family reside, after the Emperor's abdication. Crown Prince Naruhito, who would become the next Emperor, and Crown Princess Masako, the next Empress, would then move with their daughter Princess Aiko from the Togu Palace at Akasaka Estate into the Imperial Residence.

The agency is considering having Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko move into the Akasaka Estate residence where Prince Akishino and his family currently live. Prince Akishino and his family would likely move to the Togu Palace. By using existing residences, it would be possible to hold down costs associated with the Emperor's abdication.

There are no legal stipulations on the Imperial Residence, Togu Palace and other Imperial residences, but it is normal for the Imperial Residence, as well as the palace where the Emperor performs his official duties and the Three Palace Sanctuaries, where religious ceremonies are held, to be located within the Imperial Palace grounds. The Imperial Household Agency would commence renovations and other work related to the move after the Emperor's abdication is decided.

In January 1989, when Emperor Akihito took over the Chrysanthemum Throne from Emperor Showa, the Fukiage Omiya Palace where Emperor Showa had lived continued to be used as a residence by Empress Kojun.

The current Imperial Residence was constructed anew at a cost of about 5.6 billion yen, and Emperor Akihito and his family moved from Akasaka Estate to the new palace in 1993.

Akasaka Estate covers an area of about 508,000 square meters. It is where the residences of Prince Akishino, Prince Mikasa and Prince Takamado are located. It is not normally open to the public, but garden parties are held there in spring and autumn, inviting various distinguished guests.

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