• Kyodo

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The government decided Tuesday to cut back on the number of court banquets held to mark the ascension of the new Emperor next year, and to hold half of them in a buffet-style.

The move is aimed at reducing the workload on Crown Prince Naruhito, who will ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1 after his father Emperor Akihito abdicates the day before — the first living Japanese monarch to do so in 200 years — as well as other members of the imperial family taking part in the celebrations.

The government committee on the ceremonies, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, agreed to invite 2,600 guests for a total of four banquets set to be held in late October 2019 to celebrate the Crown Prince’s ascension. Two of the four banquets will be buffet-style.

After Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne in January 1989, he took part in seven banquets, day and night, over four consecutive days from Nov. 12, 1990, involving some 3,400 guests. All meals were served at the table.

The committee also decided to procure a new convertible car with enhanced safety features and fuel economy for a parade slated for Oct. 22 next year introducing the new Emperor to the public.

The government has decided not to spend the ¥18 million that would be needed to refurbish a Rolls-Royce convertible used in the previous parade in November 1990, acquired at the time for some ¥40 million.

The panel has also decided to limit the number of guests taking part in the main enthronement ceremony on Oct. 22, 2019, to about 2,500 — the same as last time — while inviting about 900 foreign guests to a dinner that will be hosted by the prime minister and his wife.

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