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Emperor performs 1st ceremony associated with abdication

Emperor Akihito makes his way to the Imperial Sanctuary of the Three Palace Sanctuaries to report his abdication and its date, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on March 12, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial Household Agency)

TOKYO -- Emperor Akihito performed a ceremony to report his forthcoming abdication and its date at the Imperial Sanctuary on the grounds of the Imperial Palace here on March 12.

Called "Kashikodokoro-ni-Taii-oyobi-sono-Kijitu-Hokoku-no-gi" in Japanese, the rite is the first of a set of 11 ceremonies associated with the Emperor's retirement scheduled for April 30.

At around 10 a.m., the Emperor, clad in special attire called "Korozen no goho," entered the Imperial Sanctuary, or Kashikodokoro in Japanese, which is situated at the center of the Three Palace Sanctuaries and enshrines the sun goddess Amaterasu-omikami. There, the Emperor delivered a special address, called "Otsugebumi," to report his abdication and bowed respectfully.

His Majesty is scheduled to perform a similar ceremony at the Mausoleum of Emperor Jinmu in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, in western Japan, on March 26, at Ise Jingu shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture, in central Japan on April 18, and at the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa in the Tokyo suburban city of Hachioji on April 23. Empress Michiko will accompany the Emperor when he pays his respects to those places.

Of the 11 ceremonies, the government regards Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi, a ceremony to be held on the evening of April 30 to announce the abdication to the people and for the Emperor to receive in audience the representatives of the people for the last time before the abdication, as "acts in matters of state" under the Constitution. The other 10 rites are classified as events of the Imperial Household.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, travel and other expenses for the Imperial Couple in attending the string of ceremonies will be covered with Inner Court Expenses, which are set aside for day-to-day personal expenses of the Emperor and the inner-court members of the Imperial Family.

(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Takashima, City News Department)

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