Friday, 20 July, 2018

Japan enacts law for Emperor Akihito, 83, to abdicate

Japan’s Emperor Akihito waves to well-wishers from a bullet-proofed balcony of the Imperial Palace during New Year’s public appearance in Tokyo. Japan’s parliament on Friday passed a law allowing Emperor Akihito Japan enacts law for Emperor Akihito, 83, to abdicate
Vera Richards | 10 June, 2017, 04:49

A couple looks at television screens showing a speech to the nation by Japanese Emperor Akihito.

He will likely be the first emperor in 200 years to resign from his throne, the last being Emperor Kokaku in 1817 in the later part of the Edo Period, reports CNN.

This is the first expected abdication by a Japanese crowned ruler in nearly 200 years. However, Abe's ultra-conservative government supports the current male-only succession. Under the current Imperial Law, women are obliged to abandon their Imperial status if they marry a commoner.

This will also be the first succession to the Imperial throne not due to the demise of an emperor since the 1889 enactment of the former Imperial House Law, which stipulated a lifetime tenure system for emperors. Crown Prince Naruhito's heir will be his younger brother, Prince Fumihito followed by Prince Hisahito. He appears to have taken pains to keep his distance from emperor-worshiping conservatives and historical revisionists who have contributed to hard relations with neighboring China and South Korea, which suffered under Japan's wartime and colonial policies. According to the law, it will happen within three years.

The Japanese Parliament has opened the door to modernising the Chrysanthemum Throne, unanimously passing a special law allowing the ailing Emperor Akihito to retire, and proposing that the government consider letting the royal bloodline pass through the women of the imperial family.

After Princess Mako, 25, gets married to paralegal Kei Komuro, 25, the total number of imperial family members will fall to 18. But through this one-off bill, Emperor Akihito is allowed to pass the throne to Naruhito, who is the eldest of his three children.

According to the Associated Press, "Media reports have said officials are considering Akihito's abdication at the end of 2018 when Akihito turns 85 and marks 30 years on the throne".

More than 30 years on, he faces another transition. It also highlights a pressing issue of the shrinking royal population and male successors. In post-World War II Japan, the emperor can not get involved in politics or have any governmental powers, but serves as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people".

Emperor Akihito's funeral ceremony and tomb will be equivalent in status to those of past emperors, the legislation said, adding that the public holiday to mark the emperor's birthday, now observed on December 23, will be moved to February 23, the birthday of the crown prince. Images of the informally dressed couple kneeling down to talk with survivors at evacuation centers were said to have helped bring the secluded imperial family closer to the public.

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