Japan's cabinet approves bill to let Emperor Akihito abdicate

Japan's cabinet has approved a bill to let 83-year-old Emperor Akihito abdicate and allow his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito, to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The abdication will be Japan's first in 200 years.

Emperor Akihito

Akihito indicated his desire to abdicate due to his age and health concerns last August, reviving a long-standing debate in Japan over the issue of imperial succession in the 2,000-year-old monarchy.

Akihito was 56 when he ascended the throne in January 1989 after the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito.

Crown Prince Naruhito is 57.

Women cannot succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne, and the government has avoided divisive issues such as whether women should be included in the male-only succession.

Naruhito's only child is a girl. His younger brother Prince Akishino has a young son and two daughters.

The shrinking royal family will lose another member with the coming marriage of Princess Mako, one of Akishino's daughters. When she marries a commoner, she will become one herself.

Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters he expected a smooth passage for the abdication bill, which would only apply to Akihito.

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito. Pic: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

Media reports have said officials are considering his abdication at the end of 2018, when Akihito turns 85 and marks 30 years on the throne. Mr Suga refused to comment on timing and other details of the legislation.

The legislation for Akihito's case was needed because the Imperial House Law does not provide for abdication. The last emperor to abdicate was Kokaku in 1817.

AP

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Obamacare replacement bill runs into trouble as four Republicans oppose it

May: No EU national will be forced out of UK when Brexit happens

Corbyn: Each Grenfell Tower death 'could and should have been avoided'

Donald Trump: I have no tapes of Comey meetings


Lifestyle

Dublin Cookie Co is cooking up a business

Ask Audrey: I tried tantric sex with my yoga instructor once and we managed 47 minutes before the bus arrived at Parnell Place

Bringing the bust to book in Sally Rooney's debut novel

Author describes what it's like when a man becomes a woman

More From The Irish Examiner