Spring decorations announcement to be pushed back due to imperial succession

The government will delay the customary announcement on April 29 of recipients of spring decorations conferred by the emperor until after Crown Prince Naruhito's ascension to the imperial throne on May 1, a government source said.
It will be the first time for a biannual announcement of recipients to be postponed since the current form of honors system was introduced in 1964.
The government sees it preferable, according to the source, to make public recipients, recommended by the Cabinet and approved by the emperor, after Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds the throne from Emperor Akihito who will abdicate on April 30, becoming the first living Japanese monarch to relinquish the throne in about 200 years.
Recipients of the decorations are announced on April 29 and Nov 3 every year and awarding ceremonies are held shortly afterward. About 4,000 individuals with distinguished accomplishments in various areas are selected each time.
Some of the decorations are handed to their recipients by the emperor himself in conferment ceremonies. All recipients gain an audience with the emperor.
Last year's recipients included former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Nobel Prize-winning Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro.
In a rare video message in August 2016, Emperor Akihito, who turned 85 in December, expressed his desire to step down, citing concerns about his age and health.

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