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Thursday, 14th July 2016
In General Japan News,

Contradicting reports suggest Japan?s emperor could abdicate

The Japanese population is uncertain about the immediate future of its monarchy after newspaper reports suggested that Emperor Akihito is contemplating stepping down.

Since the shock revelation, the royal household has countered the claim with strong denials that the octogenarian will be the first emperor of Japan to abdicate for 200 years.

Akihito has battled cancer and has been forced to cut down on his official duties, including visits, due to his age and health, but is not thought to be abdicating in favour of his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, taking over.

Two well-respected news organisations, NHK and Kyodo News, initially ran the story of a possible abdication, which has led to speculation as to the sources from which it was obtained.

More weight was then added to the claim when the Yomiuri Shimbun, a conservative broadsheet with close ties to officials, claimed the government had been preparing for a possible abdication.

The original story suggested that Akihito had told his wife, Empress Michiko, and their two sons that he would step down, but a decision had not been made as to when.

A formal announcement was then expected to follow, but instead, denials have been issued by the royal household agency, which runs much of the royal couple’s official matters.

If Akihito was to step down, then it would be a move totally unprecedented in Japan’s recent history, where male monarchs have become important symbols to the people.

They are thought to represent unity and stability – a steadfast force amongst domestic and international turmoil.

Japan has had a monarchy for 2,600 years and the last time a monarch abdicated, it was 1817 and Emperor Kokaku, who gave up the chrysanthemum throne in favour of his son.

If Akihito does abdicate, imperial household law will need to be amended to contain a provision for living succession.