New Delhi: Japan’s Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, 2019, at age 85 becoming the first Japanese monarch to abdicate his post in two centuries.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the Imperial House Council has chosen April 30th, 2019, as the date for Emperor Akihito’s abdication, and picked the next day, May first, for Crown Prince Naruhito’s accession.
Abe presided over a Council meeting at the Imperial Household Agency on Friday morning. Imperial family members, parliamentary leaders and Supreme Court justices attended.
Abe told reporters that the abdication is the first in about 200 years and the first in Japan’s constitutional history.
He said he feels deep emotion now that a major step has been taken toward the Imperial succession.
The Emperor is 83 years old and in August 2016, he gave a rare televised address, where he said his age and fitness level could make it “difficult” to carry out his duties in the future, a plea many took as a request to step aside.
The Diet enacted a special law to allow the Emperor to abdicate which was promulgated in June.
Abe said the government will swiftly determine the date for the special law to take effect. The Emperor is to step down on that day under the law.
The government is expected to make an official decision at a Cabinet meeting on Friday of next week. The choice of the end of April 2019 for the Emperor’s abdication appears to reflect the government’s wish to hold a series of ceremonies in a quiet environment and avoid a busy political schedule. March to April that year will see local elections and Diet debate on the new fiscal year’s budget.
A panel led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will discuss specifics for the abdication and accession ceremonies. The panel will be set up probably early next year.
The Imperial House of Japan is currently the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world, dating back fourteen centuries. Akihito himself is a direct descendant of Japan’s first emperor Jimmu, believed to reign around 660 BC.
He is the 125th Emperor of his line according to Japan’s traditional order of succession. He succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne upon his father Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito)’s death on 7 January 1989.