• Kyodo

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The government will delay the customary April 29 announcement of those who will receive spring decorations conferred by the Emperor until after Crown Prince Naruhito’s ascension to the Imperial Throne on May 1, a government source has said.

It will be the first time for such an announcement to be postponed since the current form of the honors system was implemented in 1964, the source said Saturday.

The government believes it is preferable, according to the source, to announce the public recipients — which are recommended by the Cabinet and approved by an emperor — after Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds the throne following Emperor Akihito’s abdication on April 30.

Emperor Akihito will become the first living Japanese emperor to relinquish the throne in about 200 years.

Recipients of the decorations are announced on April 29 and Nov. 3 every year, with the awarding ceremonies being held shortly thereafter. About 4,000 individuals with distinguished accomplishments in various areas are selected for the honor.

Some of the decorations are handed out by an emperor himself in the ceremonies. All recipients gain an audience with the emperor.

Last year’s recipients included former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Nobel Prize-winning writer Kazuo Ishiguro.

In a rare video message in August 2016, Emperor Akihito, who turned 85 in December, expressed his desire to step down, citing concerns about his age and health.

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