Japan Rewrites History, Allows Emperor to Abdicate Throne

The Japanese cabinet on Friday approved a Bill that will allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate his throne by the end of next year, Reuters reported.

Japan's popular emperor, the 83-year-old Akihito, last summer asked the government to allow him to retire, an unprecedented step but one brought about, he said, by his inability to do the job to the fullest.

Akihito will become the first emperor to abdicate since Emperor Kokaku did so 200 years ago. His heir apparent Crown Prince Naruhito-and any future successors-would not be able to abdicate under the same law.

Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says he expected smooth passage of the abdication bill, which would only apply to Akihito.

In addition to prohibiting abdication, the 1947 imperial law does not recognize the so-called collateral institutional branches, making female members of the royal family lose their royal status when marrying a commoner, which has since substantially reduced the number of members of the Japanese royal family. Thus, Princess Aiko, the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito, can not succeed her father.

The last abdication in the Japanese history was conducted in 1817. Only male heirs are eligible and only four remain in the royal household: Naruhito; his younger brother Akishimo; Hisahito, 10, the son of Akishimo; and Masahito, 81, the emperor's younger brother.

More news: Mobile Galaxy S8 Buy One, Get One deal launching today

Currently, only posthumous succession is allowed as the Imperial House Law, which stipulates Imperial matters, lacks a provision regarding an abdication by a reigning emperor.

It also makes no reference to the controversial issue of changing the system to allow women to inherit the throne, or to stay in the imperial family upon marriage, Japanese media said, although political parties are discussing a separate resolution on the topic.

Reports of the 83-year-old Akihito's desire to retire surprised Japan when they emerged last July.

They are expected to move to Togu Palace where the crown prince and his family now live, and the new emperor's family will move to the Imperial Palace, said the bill.

Officials also quickly ruled out any discussion of a possible change to the succession law to allow female members of the imperial family to become empresses.

  • Adam Floyd