Did You Know
Did You Know
Japan's Emperor Akihito has expressed his desire to abdicate in the next few years, public broadcaster NHK reports.
The 82-year-old, who has had health problems in recent years, reportedly does not wish to remain emperor if he has to reduce his official duties.
But a palace spokesman denied that there is any official plan for the monarch to abdicate in what would be an unprecedented move in modern Japan.
Crown Prince Naruhito, 56, is next in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
An unnamed government source told Japan's Kyodo news agency that the emperor, who plays a largely ceremonial role but is respected deeply by many Japanese, has been contemplating the move for about a year.
His family had accepted his decision, an unnamed palace source told NHK.
However, both palace and government sources say the Imperial Household Law would have to revised to allow for the abdication to take place.
A change to the Imperial Household Law, which stipulates the rules of succession, would require approval by Japan's parliament.
Despite a categorical denial of the reports by imperial palace spokesman Shinichiro Yamamoto, the emperor's reported wishes are being given prominent attention in the Japanese media.
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Emperor Akihito has been admired for distancing the monarchy from its association with the aggressive nationalism of World War Two.
In 1989 he succeeded his father, Hirohito, who had had the status of a living god in Japan until he was stripped of that role by the victorious Americans who wrote the country's post-war constitution.
Emperor Akihito had surgery for prostate cancer in 2003 and a heart bypass operation four years ago.
In 2011, he took the highly unusual step of making a televised national address following the devastating earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima.
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