The Foreign Ministry began funeral preparations for Emperor Hirohito seven years before his death, holding secret talks with the Imperial Household Agency on the matter in 1982, recently declassified ministry records show.
The late monarch, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, died in 1989.
The ministry and agency examined the funerals of foreign leaders, including the one for U.S. President John F. Kennedy in November 1963, as part of the effort, according to the documents.
In a Feb. 15, 1983, document the ministry’s Protocol Office said it would need to prepare a smooth response to the emperor’s death as he was then almost 82. As instructed by protocol chief Seiya Nishida, a small group began preparing around autumn 1982, it said.
In early December, Ryo Katsuyama, a councilor at the agency, held secret talks with ministry officials, it said.
At the meeting, Katsuyama said a Taiso no Rei state funeral would be held under the Imperial House Law. The information was described as Katsuyama’s personal view.
A document drawn up on Dec. 8, 1982, showed the ministry asked the agency to decide whether to invite foreign guests, citing the need to make diplomatic arrangements.
In June 1982, the Imperial Household Agency asked the ministry to survey the funerals of leaders in Britain, West Germany, France and Yugoslavia. The Protocol Office examined those of Britain’s King George VI, a Swedish king and Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, as well as Kennedy. It also studied the funerals of former prime ministers, including Shigeru Yoshida, Hayato Ikeda, Eisaku Sato and Masayoshi Ohira.
A Protocol Office document on April 12, 1983, showed details that had been worked out for Emperor Hirohito’s funeral, including transportation, accommodation and security arrangements based on examples from Ohira’s funeral in July 1980, which was attended by U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Chinese Premier Hua Guofeng.
The Feb. 24, 1989, funeral of Emperor Hirohito was attended by representatives from 164 countries, including U.S. President George W. Bush.