Day-long rituals take place at the imperial residence, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. In addition to the emperor and the Empress, many other members of the royal family attended the ceremony, as well as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and representatives of foreign embassies.
“I deeply contemplate the Crown Prince’s responsibility and will do my part,” Akishino said to the attendees, most of them wearing masks, in the NHK public broadcaster’s video.
This event included the traditional ritual of inheriting the “guardian sword” to the crown prince. Emperor Naruhito passed the sword to Akishino, symbolizing the decision of the next successor to the throne.
The event was originally scheduled for April but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and was scaled back as infections continued to increase. Major events such as celebrations have been canceled.
Last April, Emperor Akihito officially abdicated, becoming the country̵7;s first monarch to resign as Chrysanthemum in two centuries. After heart surgery and overcoming prostate cancer in recent years, he used his health reasons to resign.
The inauguration of his son Naruhito ushered in the “Reiwa” era. Each emperor’s reign is marked with their era name; the name “Reiwa” is adapted from an 8th century classical collection of poetry, and means “beautiful harmony.”
Akishino, 54, is currently the first in line for the throne. In total he is one of three heirs, the others being 14-year-old son Hisahito and Akihito’s younger brother, Prince Hitachi, 84 years old.
Under Japanese law, only men can inherit the throne – therefore, Naruhito’s only child, Princess Aiko, 18, is disqualified.
This is not always the case; queens ruled Japan at different times over the centuries. But as Japan modernized, the rulers changed the emperor’s role and established a male-only succession, formally banning women from the throne in 1889.
In recent decades, there has been a lot of debate about legislation allowing women to take the throne, but the introduction of Hisahito – the first male heir to be born after 40 years – ended the discussion. there.
Japan’s succession law drew the nation’s attention back in 2018 after Princess Ayako married an ordinary citizen – a move that forced her to give up her royal status and allowances me. The same rule does not apply to male members of the royal family.
Changes to the law are not advisable for conservatives, but the debate over how to secure a stable inheritance is likely to become increasingly fierce.
One option is to allow women to maintain royal status after marriage and inherit or pass the throne to their children, a change that most ordinary Japanese citizens prefer, according to surveys. . In direct royalty, this option would apply to Princess Aiko and Hisahito’s two sisters.
CNN’s Junko Ogura contributed to this report.