Japan’s parliament passes historic law to allow 83-year-old Emperor Akihito to abdicate

Japanese Emperor Akihito (File photo).

Japanese Parliament passed a historic law on Friday effectively allowing Emperor Akihito to abdicate, paving way for the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in almost 200 years. The move also clears the way for the accession of Emperor Akihito’s son, Crown Prince Naruhito, probably late next year. 83-year-old Akihito, who has had gone through a heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer, had told the public in a rare appearance last year that he feared age might make it hard for him to continue to fulfill his obligations.

As per the old imperial law, sitting emperors can’t resign from their honorary posts. But through this one-off bill, Emperor Akihito is allowed to pass the throne to Crown Prince Naruhito, who is the eldest of his three children. Akihito is known to have worked for decades both at home and abroad to ease the trauma of World War Two. 57-year-old Naruhito will succeed him. The upper house of Japanese Parliament passed the landmark bill, an event which was televised live on NHK public television. The bill was cleared in the lower house last week.

What needs to be done now is to flesh out the details of the abdication, including timing. Media reports have, however, said the final details will take shape at the end of 2018.

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