Japan's emperor to abdicate on April 30, 2019: gov't source

Japan's emperor to abdicate on April 30, 2019: gov't source

Japan's emperor to abdicate on April 30, 2019: gov't source

Japan's Emperor Akihito is set to step down in April 2017, having announced a year ago that age and failing health might make it hard for him to fulfil his duties.

Japan's Emperor Akihito is expected to abdicate on April 30, 2019, Japanese government said on Friday following a meeting of the Imperial House Council.

He will be succeeded Prime Minister Shinzoby his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito. His Cabinet is expected to formally approve on or around December 8 a government ordinance setting the timing of the succession, which will take place when the emperor will be 85, the source said. A law enacted in June allows Akihito, who turns 84 on Dec 23, to step down, but details have yet to be worked out.

According to the Japanese Constitution, the emperor has a merely ceremonial role, being a symbol of the nation and of national unity. "I hope the emperor will spend relaxing time as much as possible after the abdication", he said. It was needed because the 1947 Imperial House Law does not provide for abdication.

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But the proposal met opposition from the Imperial Household Agency as ceremonies to mark the imperial succession would coincide with important year-end and New Year imperial events.

Emperor Akihito is presently undergoing a prostrate cancer treatment.

"This is the first abdication by an emperor in 200 years and the first under the (post-war) constitution", Abe told reporters after announcing the panel's recommendation.

The octogenarian Akihito's 29-year reign has also been marked by travels to domestic disaster sites to cheer survivors, and overseas to soothe the wounds of a war fought in the name of his father, Emperor Hirohito, who was considered divine until Japan's defeat in World War Two.

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