Japan is looking for ways to legally allow Emperor Akihito to step down. The move came after he revealed in a televised address that it was difficult for him to discharge his royal duties. However, at no point did the Emperor use the term ‘abdication’ in his message. His message, many believe is a hint that the Emperor is ready to retire in the next few years. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet is now looking at options and ways to fulfill the Emperor’s wish. Experts believe that it can happen only if Japan amends its laws to allow the emperor to step down.
The government has created a panel to ensure abdication. The panel recently submitted its report based on research into Japan’s royalty and constitution. The report outlines a number of ways in which Japan’s legislature can amend laws to allow the Emperor to abdicate his throne, informs an NPR report. Options include a one-time provision that would apply to the Emperor or a permanent arrangement applicable to future emperors as well.
An article in NHK states that making a choice from the options is not easy. However, a temporary solution seems to be a popular option of the two. This is because making permanent changes to the law involves many challenges. Introducing abdication for future emperors poses a danger to monarchy in Japan. This is because, it would allow the government to force an emperor as well as members of Japan’s imperial family to abdicate in future.
Colin Jones believes that ‘regency’ is another way to enable Emperor Akhito to step down. Jones is a law professor at Doshisha University in Kyoto. According to him, regency will enable another member of the royal family would discharge Emperor’s official duties without having a formal change of Emperor, states an article in Bloomberg. The Professor explains that Crown Prince Naruhito had served as a regent when the emperor was recovering after his bypass. Despite a multitude of options, experts feel that Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet will take their time to make the legal changes. While the cabinet may draft the bill, it will be passed only after an expert panel reviews it. Till then Emperor Akhito will continue to reign.
Who is Emperor Akhito?
83-year-old Emperor Akhito is Japan’s reigning emperor. He has ruled the country in a ceremonial role for the past 28 years. However, with growing age and failing health, he now wants to step down. In a televised address, the Emperor recently revealed that physical constraints made it difficult for him to carry out his duties. The Emperor, who underwent a bypass in 2012, was hospitalized for pneumonia last year.
Prime Minister Abe told the media that he too is concerned about the strain placed on the Emperor on account of his duties. Another Bloomberg report reveals that the imperial household is aware of the Emperor’s wishes. Crown Prince Naruhito and other family members accepted his wishes. In fact 86 percent of Japan’s population would accept the emperor stepping down if it happened anytime.
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