06/09/2017, 13.54
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Japanese diet approves Emperor Akihito’s abdication with a three-year deadline

This would be the first abdication in 200 years. About half of Japan’s 124 Japanese monarchs gave up the throne during the 27 centuries of the world’s oldest monarchy. The law applies only to Akihito and expressly states that he will be replaced by his eldest son, Naruhito, 58. The emperor had expressed his wish to leave in a speech broadcast in August 2016.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Japanese parliament passed a law giving Emperor Akihito three years to abdicate. In doing so, he becomes the first emperor to leave the throne in 200. However, this is not exceptional; half of Japan’s 124 monarchs have abdicated.

In August 2016, Akihito, 83, signalled his desire to step down in a pre-recorded speech broadcast by the NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster. In his address, he indicated that he could no longer play the role of "symbol of the state and of the unity of the people" due to of age and poor health.

Akihito's speech was the second of his reign. The first one was made five days after the devastating tsunami of 11 March 2011.

The new succession law applies only to Akihito and explicitly states that he will be replaced by his eldest son, Prince Naruhito, 58, who will become the 126th emperor of the world’s oldest monarchy, which has lasted for 27 centuries. Akihito ascended to the throne 28 years ago, in 1989.

The reign of Akihito’s father, Emperor Hirohito, lasted for more than sixty years. If Akihito abdicates, the imperial birthday, a national holiday, will no longer be 27 December but 23 February, Naruhito’s birthday.

Legally though, emperors’ birthdays do not exist. In fact, the immediate members of Japan’s imperial family do not have a surname, have no identity papers or passports, nor are they registered at any registry office.

At present, the family includes 19 members. The latest male heir is Hisahito, 10, son of Akishino, Akihito’s second son. Most members are female.

If members of the imperial family marry commoners, they must give up their title, which is what will happen next year to Princess Mako, Akishino’s daughter.

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