A ritual marking the promotion of Prince Fumihito, the younger son of Emperor Akihito, to first in line to the throne will be held in April 2020, about a year after his father's abdication next spring, the government said Friday.
The state occasion to be held on April 19, 2020, will notify the public that the 52-year-old prince has become "koshi," the title given to the first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne. The 84-year-old emperor on April 30, 2019, will become the first living monarch to step down in Japan in about 200 years.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the date of the ritual for the prince, also widely known as Prince Akishino, at the first meeting on Friday of a government committee to work out details of ceremonies for imperial succession.
The emperor's elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 58, is scheduled to accede to the throne on May 1, 2019, and his enthronement ceremony will be held on Oct. 22 next year.
Abe also said the government plans to designate May 1 next year, when the new emperor will ascend the throne, as a one-off holiday, in a move that would create a 10-day Golden Week holiday period.
The "Rikkoshi no Rei" ritual for Prince Fumihito will be held for the first time because the new title was created for the younger brother, rather than the son, of the new emperor under special legislation enabling the abdication of Emperor Akihito, who signaled his wish to retire due to advanced age and failing health.
The Imperial House Law stipulates only males can ascend the throne in the world's oldest hereditary monarchy. Crown Prince Naruhito only has a daughter -- the 16-year old Princess Aiko.
The government committee headed by Abe will decide on the outlines of the imperial succession rites, drawing on the precedents following the 1989 death of Emperor Akihito's father Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.
Other major state occasions include "Taiirei Seiden no Gi," in which the emperor will extend his last words to the chiefs of the three branches of the government on the day of his abdication, and "Sokuirei Seiden no Gi," a highlight event for the new emperor to be attended by guests from home and abroad.
The government will also sponsor a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the enthronement of Emperor Akihito on Feb. 24 next year.