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Japanese cabinet approves legislation allowing emperor to abdicate

May 20, 2017, 00:23
Japanese cabinet approves legislation allowing emperor to abdicate

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

Japanese Emperor Akihito waves to well-wishers on his 83rd birthday, his first since voicing a desire to abdicate.

The bill will also triple the annual budget allocation for the private expenses of Prince Akishino, who will become the first in line after his older brother succeeds to the throne.

Akihito, last August, had hinted that he may step down from the royal position after he publicly cited his increasing age and declining health. Thus, the politicians had to craft legislation to make it possible. Hirohito was revered as a demigod before and during the war, however he was later reduced to a figurehead as a part of postwar reforms in the country.

Akihito has won plaudits for seizing upon the constitutionally prescribed role of national symbol and there is wide sympathy for his wish to retire.

Last summer, the 83-year-old Emperor voiced concerns that his advanced age may begin to affect his ability to serve, following an announcement last May that he and Empress Michiko, 81, would reduce their public appearances. And though he has cut back on some of his duties, he still maintains a busy official schedule, including occasional overseas visits. The current imperial household law, passed in 1947, has no provision for abdication.

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The legislation is necessary because Japan's Imperial House Law does not provide for the emperor to step down.

A six-member government panel was set up last September to hear opinions of experts on the constitution and other fields and to hold discussions on necessary legal changes to enable the emperor to abdicate and on the status of and treatment given to the retired emperor.

"I don't want him to retire".

The bill has been specifically drafted to ensure it is used only for the current emperor and to disallow future emperors from following it. Akishino's son, Prince Hisahito, 10, is the only boy of his generation in the imperial family.

The scarcity of young men in the family has prompted talk of alternatives, including letting women ascend the throne, though traditionalists abhor the idea.

Akihito is Japan's 125th emperor, a position once regarded with godlike status that's been only ceremonial since the end of World War II.

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