In an unprecedented prerecorded video message aired Monday, Emperor Akihito expressed concern about how his advanced age is affecting the performance of his public duties. The speech was widely interpreted as conveying his wish to abdicate in the near future.

The 82-year-old Emperor carefully avoided discussing any specific ideas to revise the Imperial succession system, which does not allow an emperor to step down before he dies.

But he did point out that he has already had two operations and now has the keen feeling that his strength has decreased.