08/08/2016, 12.53
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Tokyo, Emperor ready to abdicate: Increasingly difficult to perform my duties

Akihito speaks on state television, never utters the word "resignation" but says: "I am old and my tasks are heavy, I fear not being able to fulfill them well”. The population supports him, but lawyers believe it would be "dangerous" to leave Chrysanthemum throne vacant.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Japanese Emperor Akihito appeared this morning on state television, making a rare national address to announce his intention to abdicate from the Chrysanthemum throne. While never mentioning the word "resignation" or "abdication", the sovereign, who is a symbol of unity in Japan, has made it clear that he feels "very tired" and that fears of being unable to "fully fulfill the duties of my office."

His decision was expected, but the same has attracted a broad debate in the country: while the majority of the population supports him in his desire, jurists and political leaders fear that "in the long run it may cause the disintegration of the Imperial House ".

In the televised speech, which lasted about 10 minutes, Akihito said: "I passed 80 years of age and fortunately are now in good health. However, when I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole being, as I have done until now,” he said.

Akihito is 82 years old and the Chrysanthemum Throne is the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. According to the traditional counting, the current Emperor occupies the 125th place in an unbroken dynastic line which, mythologically, it is traced to Emperor Jimmu in 660 BC. Mythology aside, the historical record attests to its existence since at least the fifth century AD.

The throne itself has an ancient tradition of abdication and emperors who continued to bring to bear their influence by the withdrawal as part of a system that was known as "insei" ( "Government in seclusion"). The last Tenno ( "Monarch") who has abdicated was Emperor Kōkaku, in 1817. Even the grandfather of Akihito, Emperor Taisho, who suffered from severe neurological problems, never abdicated, but appointed his son, Hirohito (who only became Emperor at his father's death), in 1921. Since the end of World War II and with the launch of the new Japanese Constitution, the possibility of resigning was formally excluded.

The people seem to support the emperor. A survey conducted by the Kyodo news agency shows that 85.7 percent of the sample interviewed "would accept an abdication," while 10.8 percent believe the status quo should be maintained. 89.5 percent of the sample also argued that "the emperor in fact has too many official duties in light of his age".

Many lawyers and politicians, instead, consider the move to be "dangerous for the future of the imperial house". The law that regulates the House - explains the professor of Hidetsugu Yagi right - is "permanent and constitutional. If a paragraph on abdication were inserted , it would create confusion in the succession system, and in the imperial status. In the long term it would be a disaster".

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