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In effort to curb costs, Imperial agency looks to scale down some facilities for Daijosai ceremony

JIJI

The Imperial Household Agency plans to scale down the temporary Omi no Akusha facilities used in the Daijosai ceremony, one of the rites related to Crown Prince Naruhito’s enthronement next year, from those used in the last such ceremony 30 years ago, informed sources said Thursday.

Omi no Akusha facilities will be set up for use by male members of the Imperial family during Daijosai, in which a new emperor prays for good harvests and peace for the country and its people.

The plan to reduce the size of the facilities reflects a fall in the number of male Imperial family members, as well as efforts to cut the costs of holding the ceremony, according to the sources.

The plan is expected to be formally adopted as early as next week at the third meeting of a government panel for a series of Imperial ceremonies related to the succession.

The last Daijosai ceremony took place in November 1990, after Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne in January 1989 following the death of his father, Emperor Showa.

For the 1990 ceremony, the Daijokyu complex of about 30 structures, including Yukiden and Sukiden, was built within a 100-meter square area in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

These temporary structures will also be set up for the next ceremony, scheduled for Nov. 14 and 15 next year, after Crown Prince Naruhito assumes the throne on May 1. The Omi no Akusha facilities will be installed south of Yukiden and Sukiden at a smaller scale than for the previous ceremony, the sources said.

Only two male Imperial Family members—Prince Akishino, the second son of the Emperor, and Prince Hitachi, the younger brother of the Emperor — are slated to attend the forthcoming ceremony, down from six for the previous Daijosai.

The number of guests for the 2019 ceremony is set to be reduced by about 200 to some 700.

Costs related to the previous event totaled some ¥2.25 billion. For the 2019 event, the agency is eager to reduce expenses in the face of rising prices for building materials and labor.

The Daijokyu structures will be disassembled after the ceremony. Plans to re-use building materials for the facilities are being examined, the sources said, noting that one idea is to donate them to national parks.

Emperor Akihito is scheduled to step down on April 30 next year, the day before Crown Prince Naruhito’s enthronement. No succession from a living emperor has taken place for about 200 years.

Prince Akishino will be first in line to the throne after the Crown Prince’s enthronement.