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Let’s discuss the Emperor’s abdication

This week’s featured article

KYODO

The government looks likely to choose April 30, 2019, as the date for Emperor Akihito’s abdication, with Crown Prince Naruhito’s succession to the throne to follow on May 1, a government source said Nov. 22.

The government said earlier in the day that the Imperial House Council will hold a meeting on Dec. 1 this year to discuss potential dates, based on which the government will make its decision.

Advocates of scheduling the handover at the end of April argue that it would avoid a distraction during campaigning for unified local elections, expected to be held in March or April that year.

But others in the government support scheduling the abdication on March 31, with succession on April 1. These dates would offer more convenience for the public because the start of the new gengō (era name), used in the Japanese calendar, would coincide with the start of the fiscal year.

Following the Diet’s enactment in June of a one-off law to allow the 83-year-old Emperor to step down and pass the throne to his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 57, the government must decide the abdication date under an ordinance.

According to the source, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to approve the ordinance on or around Dec. 5.

The Imperial House Council gathering on Dec. 1 will be attended by 10 members, including the prime minister, heads of both chambers of the Diet, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the head of the Imperial Household Agency and two Imperial family members.

Although Prince Akishino, the younger son of Emperor Akihito, is one of the council members, he will be replaced by Prince Hitachi, 81, the younger brother of the Emperor and a reserve council member, in accordance with the Imperial House Law banning participation by a stakeholder, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

As the 51-year-old prince is expected to become kōshi, or first in line to the throne, following the Emperor’s abdication, discussions at the Dec. 1 gathering could touch directly on his status.

The top government spokesman also said the timing for the release of the new era name will be considered “by taking into account possible impacts on people’s lives.”

In August 2016, the Emperor expressed his wishes to abdicate in a rare video message, citing his advanced age, in what would be Japan’s first abdication in two centuries..

First published in The Japan Times on Nov. 22.

Warm up

One-minute chat about “My best memory of the Heisei Era.”

Game

Collect words related to Emperor, e.g., Imperial house, Japan, symbol.

New words

1) abdication: stepping down, e.g., “After his abdication, the king left his kingdom.”

2) throne: power of a ruler, e.g., “He took the throne from his father.”

3) enactment: process of making a law, e.g., “They hope for an enactment of the bill.”

Guess the headline

A_ _ _ _ 30 most likely date for Emperor Akihito’s ab_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ : government sources

Questions

1) Why is April 30, 2019, considered the best date for the Emperor’s abdication?

2) What date is the other option being discussed and why?

3) What happened in 2016 according to the article?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What was the Heisei era like for you?

2) When would you start the new era if you had to decide?

3) What do you hope for the next era?

Reference

元号を使う日本では、元号が変わると文字 通り時代が変わったと実感する人が多くいることでしょう。平成から次の時代へは、近年初めて事前準備を行う形で変わっていきます。

平成の時代にテクノロジーは目覚ましく発展し、世の中は大きく変わりました。平成の思い出を振り返るとともに、ますます世界の動きが加速するであろう次の時代に向けて私たちは何をするべきなのでしょうか。

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