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Abe has rare audience with crown prince ahead of accession in May

This combined file photo shows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Crown Prince Naruhito. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a rare audience with Crown Prince Naruhito on Friday in the prince's residence ahead of his planned accession to the throne on May 1.

During the meeting in the Akasaka Estate in Tokyo's Minato Ward, Abe is believed to have explained to the crown prince a series of events between the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito, on April 30 and his ascent to the Chrysanthemum Throne the following day.

The procedure to decide the new Japanese era name for the next imperial reign, which will be announced on April 1, may also have been explained.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed the meeting in a news conference, but declined to elaborate further.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have agreed President Donald Trump will visit Japan from May 26, which would make him the first state guest to meet the new emperor, government sources said earlier.

A Japanese prime minister regularly meets with an emperor to explain affairs at home and abroad. Abe last met with Emperor Akihito on Thursday.

In November 2017, Abe paid a visit to the Akasaka Estate to meet Crown Prince Naruhito after being re-elected as prime minister following the lower house election in the previous month.

Crown Prince Naruhito will turn 59 on Saturday.

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