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Prince Akishino, ahead of his 44th birthday on Monday, said Imperial family members should be involved in the debate over the ideal future role of Japan’s royalty.

“I think it might be necessary to have the process of listening to the opinions of the Crown Prince and other parties concerned,” Prince Akishino, second in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne after Crown Prince Naruhito, said at a news conference last Wednesday that was embargoed until Monday.

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