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Lower house OKs bill creating 10-day holiday around imperial succession

Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife Princess Masako are about to leave after attending a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of parent-teacher associations in Tokyo, on Nov. 21, 2018. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's lower house on Tuesday approved a bill to make a one-off national holiday period to celebrate the imperial succession next year, creating a 10-day string of vacation days from late April.

Under the envisioned legislation, May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the throne, will be designated as a holiday but it is envisioned that the 10-day holiday period will begin on April 27.

Oct. 22, the day of "Sokuirei Seiden no Gi," a highlight event for the new emperor, will also be a holiday, according to the bill.

Japan is preparing to welcome the new era that follows the April 30 abdication of Emperor Akihito, who will become the first living Japanese monarch to give up the throne in about 200 years. In the past, imperial succession has only taken place upon the death of an emperor.

The day when the crown prince ascends the throne falls during Japan's Golden Week holiday period that centers around four national holidays. In 2019, the period spans from April 27, which falls on Saturday, to May 6, a Monday.

April 30, a Tuesday, and May 2, a Thursday, will become holidays under existing Japanese law which stipulates that any weekday sandwiched by national holidays automatically becomes a national holiday. As a result, workers in Japan will have a 10-day vacation period starting from April 27.

Prior to the bill's passage through the House of Representatives, a lower house panel adopted a resolution urging the government to make sure people's daily lives will not be seriously impacted due to the possible closure of banks, public offices and hospitals.

The House of Councillors is expected to pass the bill during the ongoing extraordinary Diet session through Monday next week.

The outgoing 84-year-old emperor signaled his wish to retire in a rare video message in August 2016, citing concerns about his advanced age and weakening health that could prevent him from fulfilling his duties.

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