• Kyodo


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce plans for a panel to discuss Emperor Akihito’s abdication when he delivers a policy speech for the extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Sept. 26, a government source said Thursday.

The government has decided to seek expert opinion before beginning legal procedures in response to the 82-year-old Emperor’s video message to the public on Aug. 8 in which he indicated his desire to abdicate.

Members of the panel will likely include academics specializing in the Constitution, administrative law, history and Japanese traditional culture, the source said.

Although the panel was initially planned to be set up this month, its launch could be delayed to October or later, they added.

In the video message, the Emperor voiced concern that he could one day become unable to fulfill his role as the symbol of the state because of his advanced age.

Currently, only posthumous succession is allowed as the Imperial House Law, enacted in 1947, lacks a provision regarding abdication. Amendments or the creation of a special law would thus be necessary to enable the Emperor to step down.

Abe’s government is considering special legislation effective only for Emperor Akihito, with an eye to submitting relevant bills to the ordinary Diet session next year.

The envisioned special legislation would not, however, involve complicated Imperial House Law amendments, such as whether to set up a permanent abdication system, or whether to allow a married female member to remain within the Imperial family.

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