The Japanese government is reported to be looking into how to let Emperor Akihito abdicate the throne and be succeeded by Crown Prince Naruhito by January, 2019.
The Emperor, in a televised address in August last year, stated his strong desire to step down from the throne.
He said: “I am concerned it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole body and soul as I have done so far.”
Akihito underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer in 2003. He later suffered stress-related issues in 2008, bronchitis in 2011 and underwent a heart bypass operation in 2012.
Abdication is not possible under current Japanese law. The law allows only death of the incumbent as the mode of succession.
The planned legal framework would allow for him to step down and also be the first time in two centuries that a Japanese emperor abdicates. The last monarch was Kokana (1780-1817), who gave up the throne for his son.
Most support the emperor’s desire to step down. This is a part of the reason the executive government is thinking hard “about what we can do”.
Akihito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne in January 1989 following the death of his father, Hirohito.