Japan's government has set up an office to handle next year's abdication of Emperor Akihito and the enthronement of Crown Prince Naruhito.
The office, which launched on Wednesday, is staffed by 26 officials from the Cabinet secretariat and the Cabinet Office.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the importance of the series of ceremonies starting in February, 2019 -- the 30th anniversary of the Emperor's reign, his abdication, the Crown Prince's ascension and the proclamation of the next-in-line.
Abe described the ceremonies as national events that mark a turning point in history.
He asked the office staff to ensure that the ceremonies remind the Japanese people of the long history and tradition of the imperial household.
Abe said he also wants the ceremonies to be special and celebrated by people around the world.
The government plans to set up a committee headed by the prime minister and a task force headed by the chief cabinet secretary later this year to decide on the details of the ceremonies.