Japan anoints heir to the Crysanthemum Throne
Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother, Crown Prince Fumihito, was formally sworn in as first in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne in a traditional palace ritual on Sunday that has been postponed for seven months and scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ceremony for the 54-year-old crown prince concludes a series of imperial succession rituals that began in May last year when Naruhito ascended to the throne after their 86-year-old father Akihito abdicated.
Inside the palace’s most prestigious Pine Room, Naruhito, 60, declared that his younger brother is now officially the crown prince, which makes him first in line to succeed the throne of the world’s oldest monarchy.
“I hereby declare in and outside of the country that prince Fumihito is now the crown prince,” said Naruhito, in his reddish brown robe and a headdress.
Fumihito, in an orange robe and accompanied by his wife, Crown Princess Kiko said in response: “I deeply acknowledge my responsibilities as crown prince and carry out my duties.”
The approximately 15-minute ceremony, initially scheduled for April 19, was postponed after Japan’s government issued a state of emergency earlier that month due to the pandemic.
The ritual was scaled down from the original 350 to about 50 attendants that included Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and other top officials, as well as prefectural representatives and select foreign dignitaries.
In a closed ceremony later Sunday, Fumihito inherited an imperial sword symbolizing his status as crown prince.
Sunday’s proclamation for the crown prince paves the way for the government to start discussing what to do with the dire shortage of heirs in a country that reveres the monarchy.
Naruhito’s succession left only two younger men in line for the throne — Fumihito and his 14-year-old son, Hisahito. Naruhito’s 18-year-old daughter, Aiko, and the crown prince’s two daughters Mako and Kako are not in line because they are women.