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Decision is official, Japan’s Emperor Akihito will abdicate next year

Japan’s Emperor Akihito will be the first to abdicate in 200 years. Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, 2019, at age 85. Akihito's elder son Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the throne a day later. He will become the 126th Emperor to ascend to Japan's Chrysanthemum Throne.

The decision was made Friday at a meeting of the Imperial House Council, which was chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and included parliamentary leaders, supreme court judges and imperial family members. Akihito manifested his wish to abdicate, previously, in August 2016, citing his age and health. "When I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the State with my whole being as I have done until now," he said at that time.

image-from-Japan
Image from the Japan

The timing was chosen so that Akihito can abdicate after reaching his 30th anniversary on the throne. Legislation allowing Akihito to abdicate within three years was enacted earlier this year, because the 1947 Imperial House Law does not provide for abdication.. Preparations will include deciding a new era name and a new home for the emperor and the empress. The country's monarchy is 2,000-year-old. The current male-only succession rules prohibit women from succeeding to the Chrysanthemum Throne and female members lose their royal status when they marry a commoner. In Tokyo on Friday locals expressed their sadness at the loss of their Emperor.

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