Japan's parliament wants one-time abdication law for emperor

Japan's parliament wants one-time abdication law for emperorJapanese ruling and opposition parties on Friday adopted the proposal over Emperor Akihito’s possible abdication, calling for the government to write a special one-time law that would allow Emperor to abdicate, Kyodo reported on Friday.

The lawmakers’ consensus on the issue will pave the way for the 83-year-old Emperor to relinquish the throne to Crown Prince Naruhito, in what would be the first succession of a living emperor in about 200 years.

The chiefs and deputy chiefs of both Diet chambers [Japanese parliament] gave the proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later in the day.

The Diet’s draft proposal, presented to political parties and groups Wednesday, urged the government to take legal measures allowing the Emperor to step down against the backdrop of widespread public understanding of his position following a video message last summer in which he signalled his hope to retire due to his concerns over his advanced age.

Currently, only posthumous succession is allowed under the Imperial House Law, which sets out rules for imperial affairs and lacks a provision regarding abdication.

Given the compilation of the Diet’s opinions, an advisory panel to the government on the Emperor’s abdication will resume its own discussions next Wednesday with a view to publishing its final report in late next month.

The government is then expected to submit a special one-off abdication bill to the Diet, possibly after the Golden Week holidays wrap up in early May. It hopes to see the bill passed during the current Diet session, which runs through mid-June.

Although the timing of the abdication has not been formally decided, the government is apparently eyeing the Emperor’s 85th birthday — December 23, 2018 — given his video message remarks alluding to that date, which would be the 30th year of the current Heisei Era.
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