Imperial Couple likely to pursue more personal interests after abdication
TOKYO -- The Imperial Couple will retire from all public duties upon Emperor Akihito's abdication on April 30, and they are expected to spend more time on their personal interests.
Presumably, Emperor Akihito -- who will become Emperor Emeritus on May 1 -- will spend more time studying fish as an ichthyologist. Empress Michiko -- who will become Empress Emerita on the same day -- will spend more time on music and literature, among her other interests.
With regards to interacting with the public, a senior Imperial Household Agency official stated, "I believe the (Imperial Couple's) desire to interact with members of the public will not change even if such opportunities decrease."
After abdication, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will move temporarily into the Takanawa Imperial Residence in Tokyo's Minato Ward. However, the Imperial Couple will stay in the Imperial Palace for the time being, as they took part in official duties until right before the Imperial succession and have not yet started preparing to move.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko aim to move to the renovated Togu Palace on the Akasaka Estate, also in the capital, after a year and a half in the Takanawa residence. The Togu Palace will be renamed the Sento Imperial Palace, which means the residence of the emperor emeritus.
While staying at Takanawa, Emperor Akihito will visit the Biological Laboratory on the Imperial Palace grounds and continue his research on goby and other fish. On some occasions, Empress Michiko will accompany him to the Imperial Palace for a daily stroll to get exercise and to maintain their health.
The establishment of a fitness facility and a research facility was initially planned at the Takanawa Imperial Residence, but was cancelled in line with the Imperial Couple's wish to economize.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who both have connections to many artists, are expected to arrange opportunities to attend concerts and other events to enjoy works of art after the Imperial succession. They may also travel to other regions in Japan on private trips.
A close aide to the Imperial Couple commented, "They will be busy until the last day of the Heisei era. First and foremost, I wish for them to take a good rest." It is undecided to what extent the activities and lives of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will be revealed to the public.
Some Imperial Household Agency officials have expressed concern about giving the impression that Imperial authority is split if the soon-to-be former Emperor and Empress attract too much attention. Senior officials say they will "mull over and search for ways" in which Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko can interact with members of the public after retirement.
(Japanese original by Nao Yamada, City News Department)