TOKYO – Japan is planning to introduce a special legislation that will apply only to the abdication of Emperor Akihito, 82, instead of amending the law that governs Japan’s imperial household and which does not allow an emperor to step down before his death.
Amending the current law is complicated and might delay the current abdication process, government officials told Japanese news agency Kyodo.
Inviting debate on the amendment of the law right now would also delay the abdication process, they added.
Japan’s Imperial Household Law, which was enacted in 1947, only allows posthumous succession.
In a televised address to the nation on Aug. 8, Emperor Akihito expressed his desire to abdicate due to advanced age and failing health.
The Japanese public had viewed the legislative process, started to ease the abdication in favor of Crown Prince Naruhito, as an opportunity to reopen the debate on other possible changes, including allowing women access to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
This issue had been the subject of much debate after the birth of Naruhito’s only sibling, Princess Aiko, 14, but had ultimately died down.
If it goes through, Akihito’s abdication would be the first since 1817, when Emperor Kokaku had abdicated the throne.
However, abdication has been a common practice in the world’s oldest monarchy as almost half the monarchs until date have abdicated the throne while still alive.