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Japanese Emperor to abdicate in April 2019 

Tokyo, Dec 1 (IANS) Japanese Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, 2019, after a nearly 30 years reign and marking an end of an imperial era, the Imperial House Council announced on Friday.

The 10-member Council including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and members of the Imperial family, made the announcement following a closed-door meeting to deliberate the 83-year-old Emperor’s abdication, reports The Japan Times.

Akihito’s elder son Crown Prince Naruhito’s succession will take place on May 1, 2019.

The last emperor to abdicate was Emperor Kokaku in 1817 in the later part of the Edo Period. In general, Japan’s monarch is not allowed to step down under the country’s legal framework.

Following the Emperor’s rare video message aired in August 2016 in which he signaled his desire to retire, Japan’s parliament enacted a law this June to allow Akihito to pass the Chrysanthemum Throne on to his 57-year-old son. 

The law requires the Prime Minister to hear opinions from the Imperial House Council, which is a national deliberative body summoned to discuss important issues concerning the Imperial family, such as marriage of male family members and the loss of Imperial status. 

It was last held in 1993 to approve the Crown Prince’s marriage to Masako Owada.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is expected to hold a press conference later on Friday to provide details of the meeting, The Japan Times reported.

After his abdication, Emperor Akihito will be called “joko” (a title for an emperor who abdicates in favour of a successor) and Empress Michiko, 83, will be given the title of jokogo.

Emperor Akihito ascended to the throne soon after the death of his father Hirohito in January 1989.

The Japanese Constitution defines the Emperor, once considered divine, as “the symbol of the state” with no political power.

His abdication will mark the end of the Heisei era.

Akihito is a direct descendent of Japan’s first emperor Jimmu, believed to reign around 660 B.C.

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