First News
Volume:7, Number:47
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Around The World 2
THIS WEEK

Government Takes First Step Toward Allowing Emperor to Abdicate

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. The cabinet took the first step on May 19 toward allowing him to abdicate — but not until the end of next year, when Akihito will be turning 85 and will have served 30 years on the Chrysanthemum Throne. The bill will authorize the abdication as a one-time event rather than paving the way for future emperors to retire. In a televised address last August, Akihito, who has had prostate cancer and heart problems, said that his health was declining and that he was “worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole being.” The abdication, the first in 200 years, is creating all sorts of headaches for protocol specialists.

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