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Japanese government passes bill to allow emperor to abdicate

Japanese government passes bill to allow emperor to abdicate”

The Japanese Cabinet on Friday approved a bill to allow Emperor Akihito to hand over the Chrysanthemum throne to Crown Prince Naruhito in what would be Japan's first abdication in roughly 200 years.

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. Thus, the politicians had to craft legislation to make it possible.

But there is no provision under the existing law for him to abdicate and be succeeded by Crown Prince Naruhito.

Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters he expected smooth passage of the abdication bill, which would only apply to Akihito. The bill in its current form does no such thing, but the opposition Democratic Party has been advocating for debate on allowing princesses to remain in the royal family after they marry commoners.

Emperor Akihito's funeral ceremony and tomb will be equivalent in status to those of past emperors, the bill said, adding The Emperor's Birthday holiday on December 23 will be changed to February 23, the birthday of Crown Prince Naruhito, 57. Reports of his desire to retire surprised Japan when they emerged last July, and in August he publicly cited age and declining health as reasons why he wished to abdicate. Princess Mako's brother, 10-year-old Hisahito, is the fourth heir to the throne and the only boy in his generation. Under the country's Imperial Household Law, only a male heir can inherit the Chrysanthemum Throne.

These problems have recently been highlighted when Akihito's granddaughter, Princess Mako, 25, announced three days ago that she plans to marry her college friend, which will result in the princess losing her royal status.

The bill, which will make it possible to circumvent the imperial law that now prevents the Emperor from abdicating, was approved during a cabinet meeting, Efe news reported.

Now, Japan's government needs to approve the one-off bill which, if passed, will allow Emperor to abdicate.

The scarcity of young men in the family has prompted talk of alternatives, including letting women ascend the throne, though traditionalists abhor the idea.



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