Japan's emperor reveals when he'll abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne

02 December, 2017, 01:07 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • Passers-by read the news in Tokyo

A special panel chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has agreed that the date of Emperor Akihito's planned abdication - the first by a Japanese monarch in about two centuries - should be on April 30, 2019, national broadcaster NHK reported.

The emperor, who has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer, said in a rare video message aired in August 2016 that he is concerned age would one day stop him from fulfilling his duties, implying his wish to retire. A law enacted in June allows Akihito, who turns 84 on Dec 23, to step down, but details have yet to be worked out. The 10-member Imperial Household Council includes lawmakers, royals and supreme court justices and the government was required by law to hear its views before formally deciding the date.

"This is the first abdication by an emperor in 200 years and the first under the (post-war) constitution", Abe told reporters after announcing the results of the panel's discussion.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend a meeting of the Imperial Household Council
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend a meeting of the Imperial Household Council

Friday's meeting, which lasted over an hour at the Imperial Household Agency's building in Tokyo, was the eighth Imperial House Council gathering, with the first held in 1947.

Japan's constitution defines the emperor as a symbol of the state and the people, without political power. "I hope the emperor will spend relaxing time as much as possible after the abdication", he said. Late April is also more appropriate for many Japanese to embrace the change of an era after settling down from a busy period of travel and job transfers around April 1, the beginning of a new fiscal year. Naruhito's daughter, Princess Aiko, who turns 16 on Friday, can not inherit the males-only throne.

Japanese Emperor Akihito ascended to the throne after the death in 1989 of his father Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.

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