Japan panel agrees on April 30, 2019 for emperor's abdication

Emperor Akihito will become first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years

Japan panel agrees on April 30, 2019 for emperor's abdication

Emperor Akihito is expected to abdicate on April 30, 2019, and his elder son Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the throne the next day, a government source said Friday, referring to Japan's first imperial succession from a living emperor in about 200 years.

Akihito, who turns 84 on December 23 and has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer, said in rare remarks previous year that he feared age might make it hard to fulfil his duties. A law enacted in June allows Akihito, who turns 84 on Dec 23, to step down, but details have yet to be worked out.

After his abdication, Emperor Akihito will be called "joko" and Empress Michiko, 83, will be given the title of jokogo, with the crown prince ascending the throne and taking over the duties of emperor.

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Emperor Akihito is presently undergoing a prostrate cancer treatment.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the meeting, which involved the prime minister, politicians, the judiciary and imperial family members, decided on the abdication date.

The Cabinet still has to sign off on the decision on the date, which it will likely do next week.

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Previous year the Emperor declared that it was hard to perform their duties due to old age, and he wished to pass the throne to the heir. The era of the reign of the new Emperor would start on 1 may.

Japan's constitution defines the emperor as a symbol of the state and the people, without political power.

Emperor Akihito, who has spent much of his almost three decades on the throne seeking to soothe the wounds of World War Two, is deeply admired and respected in Japan which once considered its emperor to be divine. The current male-only succession rules prohibit women from succeeding to the Chrysanthemum Throne and female members lose their royal status when they marry a commoner.

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