The government said Tuesday it will set up a secretariat next month to prepare for a series of Imperial succession rites related to the Emperor's planned abdication and his son's enthronement in 2019.
The secretariat, to be launched on Aug. 1, will be tasked with overall coordination and practical matters for ceremonies linked to Emperor Akihito's abdication on April 30, 2019, and Crown Prince Naruhito's accession to the throne the next day.
"We will proceed with government preparations so that the ceremonies will be held smoothly," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
The secretariat, which will consist of 26 full-time members, will be headed by Shigetaka Yamasaki, the 58-year-old chief of the Local Administration Bureau at the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
In April, the government approved a basic plan for how the Imperial succession rites would be staged. According to the plan, a ceremonial committee chaired by the prime minister and a ceremonial headquarters led by the chief Cabinet secretary will be established around this autumn.
The secretariat will help set up the committee, which will be in charge of compiling the outline for a smooth succession. The headquarters will be tasked with coordination among government ministries and agencies.
Some of the ceremonies will be held as state occasions — including Taiirei Seiden no Gi, in which the Emperor extends parting words to the chiefs of the three branches of the government on the day of his abdication, and Sokuirei Seiden no Gi, an event proclaiming the enthronement of the incoming Emperor, on Oct. 22, 2019.
Emperor Akihito, 84, will step down as he has expressed his wishes to retire, citing concerns about his advanced age and failing health. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 58, will succeed the Chrysanthemum throne.