Lower House approves bill creating 10-day holiday in Japan around Imperial succession

Kyodo

The Lower House approved a bill Tuesday to designate a one-off national holiday period to celebrate next year’s Imperial succession, creating a 10-day block of vacation for many from late April.

Under the envisioned legislation, May 1 — when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the throne — will be designated as a holiday, but it is expected that the 10-day holiday period will begin on April 27.

Oct. 22, the day of Sokuirei Seiden no Gi — a major event for the new Emperor — will also be a holiday, according to the bill.

The nation is preparing to welcome the new era that follows the April 30 abdication of Emperor Akihito, who will become the first living Japanese monarch to give up the throne in about 200 years. In the past, Imperial succession has only taken place upon the death of an emperor.

The day when the Crown Prince ascends the throne falls during Japan’s Golden Week holiday period, which is centered around four national holidays. In 2019 the period will span from April 27, which falls on Saturday, to May 6, a Monday.

April 30, a Tuesday, and May 2, a Thursday, will become holidays under existing Japanese law, which stipulates that any weekday sandwiched by national holidays automatically becomes a national holiday. As a result, workers in Japan will have a 10-day vacation period starting from April 27.

Prior to the bill’s passage through the House of Representatives, a Lower House panel adopted a resolution urging the government to make sure people’s daily lives will not be seriously impacted due to possible closures of banks, public offices and hospitals.

The House of Councilors is expected to pass the bill during the ongoing extraordinary Diet session, which runs through Monday.

The outgoing 84-year-old Emperor signaled his wish to retire in a rare video message in August 2016, citing concerns about his advanced age and weakening health that could prevent him from fulfilling his duties.