Emperor Akihito’s planned abdication – the first by a Japanese monarch in about two centuries – should take place on April 30, 2019, a special panel chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Friday (December 1).
Akihito, who turns 84 on Dec. 23 and has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer, said in rare remarks last year that he feared age might make it hard to fulfill his duties. Akihito will be succeeded by his heir, 57-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito.
Abe said that his government will make its utmost effort to let the succession to the throne be carried out under the blessing of the people of Japan.
The cabinet will likely formally decide the date next Friday, media reported.
Some commuters in downtown Tokyo expressed their support to the decision. One retiree said the Emperor’s wish should have been granted more speedily considering his age.
Eleven-year-old Prince Hisahito, the son of Akihito’s younger son Prince Akishino, is the emperor’s only grandson and will be second in line to the throne after his father following the abdication.
Naruhito’s only child, Princess Aiko, who turned 16 on Friday, cannot inherit the male-only throne.