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Japan streamlines celebration for crown prince's ascension

Crown Prince Akishino meets the press on Nov. 20, 2019, ahead of his 54th birthday on Nov. 30. (Pool photo/Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The government decided Tuesday the outline of a ceremony in April for formally announcing Crown Prince Akishino's rise to first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne while reducing the number of banquets and simplifying their style compared with previous ascensions.

The 54-year-old became the crown prince after his elder brother, Emperor Naruhito, ascended to the throne on May 1, following the abdication of their father, former Emperor Akihito, on April 30, the first by a Japanese monarch in over 200 years.

The "Rikkoshi no rei" ceremony to be held on April 19 largely follows the style of the 1991 ceremony in which Emperor Naruhito proclaimed himself to be the crown prince.

But the number of court banquets to be held on April 21 will be reduced to two in a single day from the previous three in two days, and a buffet will be prepared instead of a seated style meal.

Among roughly 750 guests to be invited are Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, representatives from each of Japan's 47 prefectures and ambassadors to Japan.

During the ceremony, the crown prince will announce his new status and speak to the emperor and his wife Empress Masako in the "Matsu no Ma" stateroom.

After the emperor and the crown prince deliver speeches, Abe will offer a congratulatory message called "yogoto." About 350 people are expected to be invited to the occasion.

The ceremony is regarded by the government as the last of the slew of ceremonies held for the historic imperial succession.

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