Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

The Japanese Government Has Approved a Bill That Lets Emperor Akihito Abdicate

The Japanese Government Has Approved a Bill That Lets Emperor Akihito Abdicate

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Cabinet approved Friday a bill to let 83-year-old Emperor Akihito abdicate and allow his elder son Crown Prince Naruhito to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The move comes nearly a year after Emperor Akihito made a rare public television address to the nation wherein he spoke about his advancing age and health, perhaps suggesting that he wanted to step down from duties.

The bill is expected to be scrutinized by the parliament later in the day, the national Kyodo news agency reported.

Naruhito's heirs are his younger brother, Prince Akishino, and Akishino's son, Hisahito. The announcement was made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

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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.

Emperor Akihito is the reigning Emperor of Japan.

Japanese Emperor Akihito attends a martial art competition celebrating the 130 years of anniversary of the foundation of the Imperial Guard in Tokyo, Japan, January 19, 2017.

Female members of the imperial family must give up their royal status when marrying a commoner, a convention highlighted by news this week that one of Akihito's granddaughters plans to marry her college sweetheart.

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It also makes no reference to the controversial issue of changing the system to allow women to inherit the throne, or to stay in the imperial family upon marriage, Japanese media said, although political parties are discussing a separate resolution on the topic.

Empress Michiko will be given a new title, "jokogo", which means "wife of joko" after her husband's abdication. The first in line to succeed is Crown Prince Naruhito, but the law of Japan has no provision for abdication at all.

Abdication must take place within three years of the bill becoming law.

The crown prince has one teenage daughter, Aiko, who can not inherit the throne.

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Akihito's abdication would mark the first time a Japanese emperor has abdicated the throne in around 200 years. Historically, abdication of Japanese emperors was common, with about half of the 125 Japanese emperors having abdicated.

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