Tokyo, March 18 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government Wednesday adopted a plan to cancel court banquets that were to be part of the “Rikkoshi-no-Rei” ceremonies to proclaim Crown Prince Akishino’s rise to first in line to the throne.
The cancellation of the “Kyuchu-Kyoen-no-Gi” banquets, originally scheduled for April 21, was decided by a government committee on Imperial succession-related events, reflecting concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Imperial Household Agency is expected to make a formal decision on the matter soon.
“We searched for ways to somehow hold (the banquets),” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a committee meeting. “But unfortunately we have to cancel them, considering that a large number of participants would be speaking to each other at close distances while dining in a limited space.”
At a meeting in January, the committee decided to hold two Kyuchu-Kyoen-no-Gi banquets.
Following the spread of COVID-19, the committee considered reducing the number of attendees and examined other options. It decided on the cancellation based on government requests for a voluntary halt of large-scale events to contain the virus.
“Rikkoshi-Senmei-no-Gi,” the main event of Rikkoshi-no-Rei, and the “Choken-no-Gi” ceremony, in which the Crown Prince meets with Emperor Naruhito, his older brother, are still set to take place April 19 as scheduled.
The number of people invited to the Rikkoshi-Senmei-no-Gi proclamation event will be reduced to around 50 from the originally planned figure of about 350.
Among those originally invited to the ceremony, the heads of the standing committees of both chambers of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, as well as the state ministers and the administrative vice ministers, will be removed from the invitation list.
Meanwhile, the chairs of the lower and upper chambers of the Diet and their deputies will remain on the list, as will the heads of the two chambers’ steering committees, the prime minister, the other members of his cabinet, the heads of regional public entities and foreign ambassadors to Japan.
During the ceremony in the Imperial Palace’s “Matsu-no-Ma” hall, its glass doors will be kept open to avoid creating a sealed environment and thus reduce the risk of coronavirus infections.
Invitees will be requested not to attend if they have fevers or other cold symptoms. Participants will be asked to disinfect their hands with alcohol-based sanitizers.