Japanese Crown Prince Akishino has been formally declared the first in line to the Crysanthemum throne during a traditional ceremony here which had been delayed for months due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
On Sunday, the traditional ‘Rikkoshi no Rei’ rite for Akishino ended a series of imperial succession rituals held since his elder brother Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne in May 2019 following the abdication of their 86-year-old father former Emperor Akihito, reports The Japan Times.
Akihito became the first Japanese monarch to step down in more than 200 years.
During Sunday’s ceremony, which took place at the Imperial Palace, Emperor Naruhito proclaimed Akishino as the next in line to the throne to the people of Japan and the world.
“I will discharge my duties solemnly bearing in mind my responsibilities as Crown Prince,” The Japan Times quoted the 54-year-old Akishino as saying.
He was also joined by his wife, Crown Princess Kiko.
The ceremony has been initially planned for April 19, but it was postponed after the Japanese goverenment declared a state of emergency in the wake of the health criris.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga congratulated Akishino, and in a message said: “The (Japanese) people have revered the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess after seeing how they have shown kindness in their interactions with people…”
According to the 1947 Imperial House Law, only male members in the paternal line can ascend to the throne, which had left only three possible heirs — Akishino, his 14-year-old son Prince Hisahito and the Emperor’s uncle Prince Hitachi.