The Imperial Household Agency on Dec. 28 disclosed that Emperor Akihito will not perform the Ritual Ceremonies of the Imperial Palace held at the three Imperial Palace Sanctuaries after his abdication at the end of April 2019.
Crown Prince Naruhito, who is positioned to become the next emperor, and Crown Princess Masako, the next empress, will perform the ceremonies alongside Prince Akishino, who is set to become the imperial heir, and his wife Princess Kiko.
The ritual ceremonies are religious rites to pray for peace of the nation. Approximately 20 rites such as the Nov. 23 Niiname-sai, a harvest festival, are performed annually. According to customary practice, the emperor, the empress, the crown prince and the crown princess perform the rites. From the perspective of separation of state and religion, the court rituals are not included as official duties.
Prince Akishino will not take the title of crown prince, though he will receive the same treatment as a crown prince, and take part in the ritual ceremonies in that capacity.