01/24/2017, 13.12
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Towards a special law to allow the Emperor to abdicate

The last abdication in the history of the country took place over 200 years ago. The emperor's desire and the lack of legislation on the subject. The indications of the commission established to deliberate. More than 90% of Japanese favors the Emperor’s wish. 2018-2019 may mark a new era for the Chrysanthemum Throne.


Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A specially constituted governmental Commission suggests the adoption of special legislation to authorize the Emperor Akihito to abdicate. It is expected to announce its deliberations next March.

The sovereign, who succeeded his father in 1989 and is now 83 year old, had expressed the concern of not being able to fully exercise the role of  being a "symbol of the nation and the unity of the Japanese people" in August.

The monarch's statements shocked the country and sparked a heated debate. According to the law governing the imperial household the Emperor of Japan is not allowed to leave the throne in his lifetime and this is the first time in two centuries that a monarch from the Land of the Rising Sun should want to do so.

Following the announcement of Akihito, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delegated the study of the matter to the Commission that expressed itself yesterday.

The debate, which strongly divides the population, focused on the method to legislate for abdication: a revision of the law on the protocols that govern the imperial house or writing a special legislation from scratch granting the present Emperor, and only to him, the right to leave the throne in favor of his eldest son Naruhito.

If this second option is the preferred one by the commission, the opposition and many experts prefer a reform of the law governing the imperial house.

However, the nationalists, close to Abe, do not want to reopen talks on the amendment of this text from the early post-war period to avoid a wider debate, in particular on the matter of the succession of women to the Chrysanthemum Throne, which is still prohibited today. Two other options were presented yesterday by the commission: to reduce the official duties of the emperor or appoint a regent, instead of abdication.

The people, however, seems to have sided with the emperor. In fact, according to various surveys, about 90 percent of the population believe it is fair to satisfy the will of Emperor Akihito, 125th emperor in a hereditary line which began in 660 BC, in what is the oldest hereditary monarchy currently in operation in the world.

According to media speculation, Japan may begin a new imperial era at the end of 2018 with the ascent to the Chrysanthemum throne of Crown Prince Naruhito, first in line of succession to the throne 56 years old and the Emperor’s eldest son.

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