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Japan’s cabinet on Friday approved a bill to allow Emperor Akihito to hand over the Chrysanthemum throne to Crown Prince Naruhito in what would be Japan’s first abdication in roughly 200 years….
Japan’s cabinet on Friday approved a bill to allow Emperor Akihito to hand over the Chrysanthemum throne to Crown Prince Naruhito in what would be Japan’s first abdication in roughly 200 years. The government envisions December 2018, when the emperor turns 85 years old, as a possible timing for his abdication, and that the nation’s “gengo” era name, which remains in use for the length of an emperor’s reign, will likely change at the start of 2019, sources close to the matter have said. The bill was specifically designed for the current emperor, so as to prevent others easily following suit. Securing stable succession amid a declining number of imperial family members, highlighted by recent news of Princess Mako’s impending engagement to a commoner, remains a challenge. Princess Mako, the first grandchild of 83-year-old Emperor Akihito and the elder daughter of Prince Akishino, is expected to become a commoner after her marriage in accordance with the Japanese imperial law. “The government is expecting the bill to be enacted smoothly, ” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference. The bill states the public’s “understanding” and “sympathy” for the aging emperor’s “deep concern” about becoming unable to fulfil his duties eventually as a reason to set up the special-case abdication law. The timing of the emperor’s retirement will be set by a government ordinance after the enactment and promulgation of a special-case abdication law. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government launched the preparations of a legal revision to enable the emperor to retire following his unusual televised address to the public last August signalling his desire to step down due to his advanced age and weakening health. Currently, only posthumous succession is allowed as the Imperial House Law, which stipulates imperial matters, lacks a provision regarding an abdication by a reigning emperor.

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