Prince Akishino and his wife, Princess Kiko, dressed in traditional attire. Image sourced from KYODO.

The Crown Prince’s Delayed Ceremony of Succession

On Sunday November 9th, Crown Prince Akishino, brother to Emperor Naruhito, was officially declared as the next in line to the throne. The ceremony was referred to as the Rikkoshi no Rei and was the final ritual required to be formally announced as the Crown Prince. 

The original Rikkoshi no Rei was set to take place 7 months ago, but had to be postponed due to the Corona Virus. Even after waiting, there were still changes in place due to the virus such as social distancing, the requirement of masks for all guests, and only  46 guests being allowed to attend. Originally, around 350 guests were expected to attend the ceremony. 

The 54-year-old Crown Prince Akishino together with his wife, the newly crowned Princess Kiko, stood before Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako and made vows to uphold his duty, saying “I will discharge my duties solemnly bearing in mind my responsibilities as crown prince.”

During the ritual, Prince Akishino also inherited an imperial sword that has been passed down from previous crown princes. 

The Prince pictured along with his family. His son, (middle) is only 14-years-old, but is second in line to the throne.

The reason for the Emperor’s brother to take the title of crown prince comes from a lack of viable successors. According to the 1947 Imperial House Law, only males in the family tree can be considered heirs to the throne. This law leaves only Akishino, his 14-year-old son Prince Hisahito, and the emperor’s 84-year-old uncle Prince Hitachi as possible heirs. Prime Minister Suga has commented on the possibility of problems with succession in the future and has said that the government is currently looking into securing means for future heirs.