National

Japan's new emperor to make visits to Aichi, Akita, Niigata and Ibaraki from June

Kyodo

Emperor Naruhito will start official visits across the country in June after acceding to the throne Wednesday and taking over duties from his father.

Following the National Arbor Festival in Owariasahi, Aichi Prefecture, on June 2, the emperor will attend three other annual events — the Festival for the Cherished Sea on Sept. 7 and 8 in Akita Prefecture, the National Culture Festival that runs between Sept. 15 and Nov. 30 in Niigata Prefecture, and the National Sports Festival that runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 8 in Ibaraki Prefecture.

He has taken part in the culture festival since its inception in 1986, while attendance at the other events passed to him from Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who will no longer perform official duties following his abdication Tuesday.

Empress Masako suffers from stress-induced adjustment disorder, and her health will determine whether she accompanies the new emperor, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

“His Majesty cares very much about his duties in regional areas, and must be looking forward to meeting different people around the country,” said a senior agency official.

It was customary for Emperor Emeritus Akihito to see local cultural, welfare and care facilities when traveling to the annual events. Together with Empress Emerita Michiko, he visited each of the 47 prefectures at least twice during his 30-year reign.

Official duties for the 85-year-old had been slashed to help reduce the burden on him, but his succession by 59-year-old Emperor Naruhito is expected to see some of the scrapped duties return, including speeches.

The emperor’s younger brother, Crown Prince Akishino, and his wife, Crown Princess Kiko, will attend four regional events that the new emperor visited when he was the crown prince. Official duties at a fifth event will be taken on by Princess Nobuko, widow of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa.

The imperial family has been shrinking due to its female line losing their status by marrying commoners. This has led to much debate as to how official duties can be divided.

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