The government announced Saturday that it has decided to cancel a state banquet that was to be hosted by the Emperor in Tokyo on July 20 for leaders of the Group of Eight nations, following the death Friday of the Empress Dowager, widow of the Emperor Showa.
The government made the decision after consulting the committee arranging the Empress Dowager’s funeral, headed by Grand Steward of the Imperial Household Sadame Kamakura.
The Imperial Household Agency has decided to hold the funeral for the Empress Dowager on July 25, and has begun making detailed arrangements with the Cabinet secretariat and other government bodies, officials said.
The Shinto-style funeral, to be arranged by the agency’s funeral committee, is expected to take place at the Toshimaoka cemetery in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward. The Empress Dowager will then be entombed at the Musashino Imperial Mausoleum in Hachioji, in western Tokyo, where her husband is also interred.
Thousands of mourners visited the Imperial Palace and other locations on Saturday to pay their respects to the Empress Dowager. The Emperor and Empress, as well as other Imperial family members, visited the Fukiage Palace again Saturday to pay a final farewell.
The state banquet was scheduled to be held before the start of the three-day summit in Okinawa Prefecture on July 21. The Emperor, the Empress and other members of the Imperial family went into a 150-day mourning period Friday.
The mourning period consists of three phases. During the first phase of 30 days, Imperial family members dress in black and avoid holding events including wedding ceremonies or garden parties.
The Imperial family are expected to be soberly dressed and can host banquets for foreign guests during the second 30-day phase. July 20 falls during this period.
During the third phase, lasting 90 days, wedding ceremonies for Imperial family members can be held if there is a special reason.
The cancellation of the state banquet, which was to be held at the Imperial Palace, might affect the timetables of a series of planned top-level bilateral meetings in Tokyo, including talks between Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and U.S. President Bill Clinton, as G8 leaders will not need to make a stopover in Tokyo for the dinner, government sources said.
The G8 links Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.