The following are questions and answers regarding the management of money and property of the imperial family, including costs of ceremonies related to Emperor Naruhito's enthronement.
Q: How much does the enthronement of the new emperor cost?
A: The total cost of events related to the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito is expected to reach 16.6 billion yen ($150 million), up 30 percent from the amount spent on former Emperor Akihito's accession. The emperor and members of the imperial family expressed hope that the related events could be carried out on a modest budget, but the government struggled to contain rising costs while maintaining the quality of the events.
Q: What are some examples of cost-cutting measures by the government?
A: The government has decided to cut the cost of building halls for the main Daijosai grand thanksgiving ceremony to 1.9 billion yen from the estimated 2.5 billion yen required to make structures equivalent to those used previously. The site area will be reduced by about 20 percent and construction materials reused after the rite. As a result, the government expects the total cost of Daijosai to be 2.7 billion yen. It also cut 80 million yen from the budget for the "Kyoen no gi" banquets from the previous ones by reducing the number of guests as well as the number of times they are held.
Q: Despite such efforts, why did the cost of the enthronement rise from the last one?
A: Expenses related to accommodating foreign guests grew 4.1 billion yen to 5 billion yen. An increase in labor and material costs also pushed up the entire expenses. A senior Imperial Household Agency official said, "We've tried everything in terms of cutting costs while maintaining the dignity of the ceremony."
Q: Is it appropriate for the state to fund ceremonies related to the succession?
A: Some critics said that public funding of certain rituals violates the constitutional principle of the separation of religion and state, as many are related to Shinto in which the emperor is venerated as a descendant of a sun goddess. In relation to the enthronement ceremonies for Emperor Akihito in 1990, a number of lawsuits contesting the constitutionality of the rites were filed across Japan, but they were all dismissed. However, the Osaka High Court said in a 1995 ruling that doubts remain whether government financing of Shinto-linked rituals breaches the Constitution.
Q: What is the amount of the Imperial Household Agency's FY 2019 budget?
A: Annual expenditure of 24 billion yen has been approved for the agency by the Diet. The budget is roughly divided into 11.7 billion yen as expenses for the imperial family and 12.3 billion yen for personnel and other costs of the agency. An outlay for the imperial family includes inner court expenses of 324 million yen, or the personal budgets for the families of Emperor Naruhito and former Emperor Akihito, as well as palace-related expenses of 11.1 billion yen that are used for the imperial family's official duties such as ceremonies, banquets and public visits to foreign countries.
(Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and their daughter Princess Aiko)
Q: Are there any changes to the expenses of imperial family members following the succession?
A: The government has decided to cover the daily expenses of the former emperor and empress with the inner court expenses based on a special law enacted in 2017 to enable the imperial succession. The annual allowance for Crown Prince Fumihito and his family was tripled from the previous year to 120 million yen, because he is now first in line to the throne following the imperial succession.
Q: Who is authorized to make changes to expenditures for imperial family members?
A: Any changes to the allowances for imperial family members are determined by members of the Imperial House Economy Council, whose members include the prime minister, the finance minister and heads of both chambers of the Diet. The council also decides how much should be given in lump-sum payments when an independent household is established or women give up their imperial status upon marriage to a commoner.
(Former Emperor Akihito after attending a ritual for his abdication)
Q: Is the emperor obliged to pay taxes?
A: The personal allowances granted to the emperor and members of the imperial family are exempt from income tax, but they are obliged to pay inheritance and other taxes. Former Emperor Akihito is believed to have paid some 428 million yen in taxes after he inherited private assets -- cash, stocks and bonds -- from his father Emperor Hirohito worth about 1.87 billion yen. They also need to pay income tax if they earn income through royalties from books they write, lecture fees and stock dividends.