Japan: Panel begins to study Emperor’s possible abdication

Japan: Panel begins to study Emperor’s possible abdicationExperts on a government-commissioned panel in Japan held their first meeting Monday to study how to accommodate Emperor Akihito’s apparent abdication wish, in a country where the monarch is not supposed to get involved in politics.

Japan’s modern imperial law doesn’t allow abdication. Allowing Akihito to do so raises legal and logistical questions, ranging from laws subject to change to the emperor’s post-abdication role, his title and residence.

Six panel members who met Monday — five academics and a business organization executive — are to compile a report early next year after interviewing specialists on the Constitution, monarchy and history.

The government reportedly wants to allow Akihito’s abdication as an exception and enact a special law to avoid dealing with divisive issues such as possible female succession and lack of successors.

The Japanese emperor had in August hinted that he may relinquish the throne as concerns mounted over his ability to carry out his duties fully as he ages.

Emperor Akihito made the remarks in a rare video message delivered to the public on national television.

The 82-year-old monarch did not explicitly refer to abdication in his address. He did suggest a need to consider how to make the succession process smoother.

According to Japan Today (via the Associated Press), Akihito’s position as a monarch in the country is purely symbolic as he does not hold any political power or have any say in state affairs.
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