Japan emperor to step down?


Monday's 10-minute speech marked Akihito's second public address since he became emperor in 1989 when his father, Hirohito, the leader of imperial Japan during WWII, passed away. He strongly implied so, though, by saying he is anxious that age may make it hard for him to carry out his duties, and noting that when past emperors became seriously ill, it brought society to a standstill and imposed a heavy strain on others in the Imperial family.

The Emperor said he has been thinking about how he should conduct himself in the future because he started feeling decreasing physical strength several years ago. Accommodating the Emperor's wish would require revising the 1947 law, which stipulates that the emperor's position will be taken over upon his death in accordance with the dynastic line of succession as determined by the law, and the government is reportedly ready to discuss an amendment. Emperor Akihito, is no doubt ready to resign, but the question is whether he will be allowed to make that decision by the Japanese and the elected leaders or not.

Next in line to the throne is Crown Prince Naruhito, 56, followed by his younger brother, Prince Akishino, 50.

The 82-year-old Emperor of Japan had a heart bypass surgery in 2012, in 2003 he survived an operation (oncological tumor in the prostate), so his concerns and desire of abdication is quite understandable.

Until the 19th century it was quite common for Japan's emperors to abdicate but since the 19th century it has been considered taboo.

But Japanese parliament may be loath to consider such changes, Kingston said in an email to CNN.

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"Considering the emperor's duties, as well as his age and the burden (of the job), we have to firmly look at what we can do", he said. If he were to step down from the throne, he would be the first Japanese Emperor to abdicate since Emperor Kokaku in 1817.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released comments following the emperor's message, saying that he will take into serious consideration the emperor's condition concerning his advanced age and official duties, and see what could be done.

The Japanese law, which says an emperor serves until death, has no provision for abdication.

The 82-year-old monarch spoke publicly after recent media reports that he may want to abdicate because he did not want to cling to the title if his duties had to be severely reduced.

It was only the second time since acceding to the throne in 1989 that Akihito has appeared on television to address the nation - the first was in the weeks following the March 2011 natural disaster and tsunami in northeastern Japan, when he offered a well-received message of sympathy and support.

The emperor and empress have long maintained a demanding schedule of more than 250 public meetings per year and 75 annual trips within and outside of Japan, the IHA said in May. Five years ago - when Japan was hit by an quake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown - the emperor abandoned formality to comfort the Japanese people. Emperor Akihito, in a rare address to the public, signaled Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, his apparent wish to abdicate by expressing concern about his ability to carry out his duties fully.