• Kyodo

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The government decided Tuesday on the outline of a ceremony in April to formally announce Crown Prince Akishino’s rise to first in line to the chrysanthemum throne, reducing the number of banquets and simplifying their style compared with previous ascensions.

The 54-year-old became the crown prince after his elder brother, Emperor Naruhito, ascended to the throne on May 1, following the abdication of their father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, on April 30 — the first by a Japanese monarch in over 200 years.

The Rikkoshi no Rei ceremony to be held on April 19 will largely follow the style of the 1991 ceremony in which Emperor Naruhito proclaimed himself to be the crown prince.

But the number of court banquets to be held on April 21 in association with the ceremony will be reduced to two, and held in a single day, compared to the previous three across two days. Instead of a seated meal, a buffet will be prepared.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, representatives from each prefecture and ambassadors to Japan are among the roughly 750 guests set to be invited.

During the ceremony, the crown prince will announce his new status and speak to the emperor and his wife, Empress Masako, in the Matsu no Ma stateroom.

After the emperor and the crown prince deliver speeches, Abe will offer a congratulatory message called yogoto. About 350 people are expected to be invited to the occasion.

The ceremony is regarded by the government as the last of a slew of ceremonies held for the imperial succession.

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