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Gov't mulls 10-day holiday period around Imperial abdication, enthronement

Emperor Akihito, left, and Crown Prince Naruhito (Mainichi)

The government and ruling coalition are considering making the period around Emperor Akihito's abdication and Crown Prince Naruhito's enthronement ceremony a 10-day straight holiday period by setting May 1, 2019, as a national holiday, it has been learned.

Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, 2019, and Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne the following day. If May 1, 2019, was designated as a national holiday, April 30 and May 2 of that year will automatically become public holidays under the Act on National Holidays as they are both sandwiched by national holidays. This will bring about a 10-day Golden Week holiday period from April 27 through May 6.

The government and ruling parties are also considering an alternative option -- designating May 1, 2019, as just a plain public holiday, in which case the 10-day holiday break will not come about.

When Emperor Akihito's enthronement ceremony was held on Nov. 12, 1990, the day was made a one-off public holiday. A source close to the government told the Mainichi Shimbun on Dec. 6 that a measure to designate May 1, 2019, as a holiday -- whether it be a national holiday or a plain holiday -- will be an ad-hoc one effective for that year alone. "It may not become a permanent holiday," the source said.

The Act on National Holidays stipulates that a day whose previous and following days are both national holidays becomes a public holiday. If May 1, 2019, was made a national holiday, then April 30, which is preceded by Showa Day national holiday (April 29), as well as May 2, which is followed by Constitution Memorial Day (May 3), will both become public holidays.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to formally approve a government decree on Dec. 8 scheduling the Emperor's retirement for April 30, 2019. Following the approval, the government and ruling coalition will move on to full discussion on the holiday issue, including whether a bill for making May 1, 2019, a holiday should be submitted to the Diet by the government or lawmakers.

There are growing calls within the government and ruling parties for the bill to be sponsored by legislators as "it is appropriate for the Diet to propose the bill when it comes to a national holiday," according to a government source.

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