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Akihito to become first Japanese emperor to abdicate in 200 years

Octogenarian monarch will step down in April 2019, heralding start of new imperial period is presided over by eldest son, Naruhito

Japan‘s Emperor Akihito will abdicate in springtime 2019, virtually three years after he recommended his age and health were affecting his ability to carry out his official duties.

The 83 -year-old was formally retire on 30 April 2019 in the first abdication by a Japanese ruler for 200 years. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will become the 126 th tenant of the chrysanthemum throne the following day.

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Crown Prince Naruhito

Crown Prince Naruhito

Naruhito will become the 126 th occupant of Japan’s chrysanthemum throne in April 2019, the day after his father, Akihito, retires.

Now 57, Naruhito attended Gakushuin, an upper-class school in Tokyo favoured by the imperial family. He analyse at Merton College, Oxford, in the mid-1 980 s, but did not submit his thesis- a study of 18 th century navigation on the river Thames- until more than a decade later. In a memoir of his time in England, he disclosed a fondness for fish and chips and traditional pubs.

He has a public interest in conservation, and retains fit by jogging, hiking and mountain climbing.

There is uncertainty over the role is looking forward to his wife, Princess Masako. In 2004, the former career envoy was diagnosed with a stress-related illness and Naruhito suggested it was caused by the palace lifestyle.

“For the past 10 times, she has tried very hard to adapt herself to the imperial family, ” he said. “In my eyes, she appears totally exhausted from it .”

Masako has been more visible lately and is trying to resume her duties” carefully and gradually “. The pair have a daughter, Princess Aiko.

Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/ EPA

The date was set on Friday by the imperial house assembly, comprising the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, parliamentarians, state supreme court magistrates and members of the imperial family.

” I feel deeply moved that the commission has came to its decision smoothly, celebrating a major step towards an imperial succession ,” Abe said.

Initial plans for the succession to take place at the start of 2019 were scrapped in favour of a date that would enable Akihito to recognize his 30 th time on the throne. Some bureaucrats had voiced concern that a new year abdication would clash with seasonal events and imperial rituals.

Akihito has become an enormously popular figure since succeeding “his fathers”, Hirohito, Japan’s wartime emperor, in January 1989.

While the postwar constitution prohibits Japanese monarches from wielding political affect, Akihito has use his role to promote reconciliation with former victims of Japanese wartime aggressivenes. On a visit to China in 1992, he said he” profoundly deplored” an” unfortunate interval in which my country imposed great agony on the person or persons of China “.

He and Empress Michiko, a commoner whom he met while playing tennis, have also had a prominent role in helping the victims of natural disasters, inducing several visits to the region devastated by the 2011 tsunami.

” Both the ruler and empress reckoned tirelessly about the people ,” said Taeko Ito, a 72 -year-old caregiver.” Now he is elderly and I sincerely hope that he can have a rest .”

The name given to his reign- Heisei( achieving peace)- will be replaced when Naruhito becomes emperor at the age of 59, though a new epithet has yet to be decided. Akihito and Michiko will move into a new home after they vacate the imperial palace.

Japan’s government rushed to draw up legislation to accommodate Akihito’s wishes because the 1947 imperial household law has no provision for abdications. The last sovereign to abdicate was Kokaku in 1817.

Akihito’s retirement and the engagement of his eldest grandchild, Princess Mako, have reignited the debate about the shortage of male heirs and a possible succession crisis in an imperial line that, if legendary monarch are included, stretches back 2,600 years.

Abe, nonetheless, withstood opponent pressure to include a clause allowing female members to retain their royal status after marriage commoners- a change that would have enabled their sons to become emperors.

Mako’s marriage next November will leave the imperial household with 18 members- 13 of whom are women- and only four heirs to the throne: Naruhito, his younger friend, Prince Akishino, and Akishino’s son, 11 -year-old Prince Hisahito, and the emperor’s 82 -year-old brother, Prince Masahito.

In a rare televised address in August 2016, Akihito, who becomes 84 later this month, said he feared his age and declining health would leave him unable to perform official duties. He has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ world/ 2017/ dec/ 01/ akihito-become-first-japanese-emperor-abdicate-2 00 -years

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