Published: Sat, December 02, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Japanese emperor Akihito says he will abdicate in 2019

Japanese emperor Akihito says he will abdicate in 2019

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the timing of what will be the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in around two centuries.

The Japanese Emperor has no political powers, but is expected to perform several national duties, including greeting other heads of state. His duties include Shinto religious ceremonies and constitutionally-defined tasks, such as the opening of parliament.

Akihito was 56-years-old when he ascended the throne following the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito.

"The emperor all along has meant to pass all his public duties including state acts to the next emperor", Naruhito's younger brother, Prince Akishino, said in remarks published to mark his 52nd birthday on Thursday.

A special panel will discuss possible dates on Friday, with the cabinet to make a final decision.

Japan's Emperor Akihito is set to step down in April 2017, having announced previous year that age and failing health might make it hard for him to fulfil his duties. The Japanese Parliament in June 2017 allowed the Emperor to abdicate. "This is unprecedented, so there are many things I cannot imagine", he said.

The octogenarian Akihito will be succeeded by his heir, 57-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito. That is because he has only a daughter, Princess Aiko, who turned 16 on Friday, and under current rules she will be prohibited from inheriting the males only throne.

Akihito and Michiko - the first commoner to marry a Japanese emperor - have worked to reconcile relations across Asia, which suffered from Japan's aggression before and during World War Two, with numerous visits overseas.

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