National

Emperor likely to issue video message Monday amid reports of desire to abdicate

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito is likely to express his thoughts on his role in a video message Monday amid growing speculation that he is considering abdication, sources said Thursday.

The Imperial Household Agency is arranging for the 82-year-old Emperor’s message to be made public Monday afternoon, the agency sources said, adding he is expected to read out a statement prepared in consultation with senior agency officials.

It will be only the Emperor’s second video message, following one released five days after the massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

While the Emperor is unlikely to refer directly to abdication, he is expected to share his view about fulfilling his official duties going forward.

The last emperor to abdicate was Emperor Kokaku in 1817.

The Imperial House Law does not contain a provision relating to abdication and the government has set up a special team to study the matter in strict secrecy.

Last month, it was reported that the Emperor wished to hand the throne to his 56-year-old son, Crown Prince Naruhito, due to concerns about his ability to fully perform his duties.

The Emperor has since told close aides that the performance of his duties is inseparable from his status as a symbol of the state, as stipulated in the Constitution, and has expressed his desire to abdicate if he cannot perform them in the future.

Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne at age 55 upon the death of his 87-year-old father, Emperor Hirohito, who is posthumously called Emperor Showa, in 1989.