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Japan sets date for Emperor Akihito’s abdication

Japan sets date for Emperor Akihito’s abdication

Japanese prime minister made an official announcement on Friday, Emperor Akihito will step down on April 30, 2019. For Japanese imperial family, it will be the first retirement in more than two centuries.

Japan’s imperial family is the world’s oldest one but the current popular 83-year-old monarch made the decision to step down for health reasons. PM said he was “deeply moved” at the “smooth decision” taken after a special meeting of the Imperial Council to decide on the date for Emperor Akihito to step down for health reasons.

“The government will make utmost efforts to ensure that the Japanese people can celebrate the emperor’s abdication and the succession of the crown prince,”

Shinzo Abe said.

Akihito’s eldest son, 57-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, is expected to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne the next day.

Japan’s law and abdication process

Last year, Emperor Akihito shocked the world when he signalled his desire to take a back seat after nearly three decades, the reasons for such decision were health problems and monarch’s age. The 83-year-old Akihito is very popular in Japan but people fully understand emperor’s desire to have some rest without multiple public duties.

There have been abdications in Japan’s long imperial history dating back more than 2,600 years but the last one was more than two centuries ago.

Under Japanese law, prime minister to hear opinions from the Imperial Household Council, whose members also include the heads of both houses of the Diet, the Supreme Court chief justice, the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency and two Imperial family members, before deciding the abdication date by a government ordinance.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the panel meeting, which was held at the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo. Later, he officially announced the date of Emperor Akihito’s abdication – April 30, 2019. Next day the Japanese people will congratulate Crown Prince Naruhito with his ascending throne.