Japan is planning to scale back events related to rituals to formally announce Crown Prince Fumihito's rise to first in line to the throne planned in April to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the government said Monday.
The government is expected to cancel two court banquets slated for April 21 to celebrate the crown prince's ascension, the source said, adding that a formal decision will be made probably later this week.
The government had planned to invite a total of around 750 guests, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and foreign ambassadors to Japan to the banquets.
It had already been decided to reduce the number of court banquets to two in a single day from three over two days, as at the previous ascension event, even before concerns over the coronavirus outbreak spiked. The reduction was intended to cut costs and reduce burdens on participating imperial family members.
(Crown Prince Fumihito meets the press on Nov. 20, 2019 ahead of his 54th birthday on Nov. 30.)
The 54-year-old prince became first in line after his elder brother Emperor Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019, a day after the abdication of former Emperor Akihito, the first Japanese monarch to step down in over 200 years.
The series of rituals called "Rikkoshi no rei" is expected to largely follow the style of the 1991 event, in which Emperor Naruhito was proclaimed the crown prince.
As its central part, two ceremonies will be performed on April 19 -- the "Rikkoshi Senmei no gi" ceremony to proclaim Prince Fumihito the new crown prince, and "Choken no gi" for his first meeting with the emperor and empress following the proclamation.
Abe requested last week that big sports and cultural events in the country be canceled or postponed for 10 more days after making his initial request late last month to curb domestic infections.
The number of infections reported in Japan has topped 1,500, including nearly 700 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.
The formal proclamation by crown prince as first in line to the throne will be the last in a series of ceremonies held for the imperial succession after former Emperor Akihito abdicated on April 30 last year.