Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration may use bipartisan bills to enable 82-year-old Emperor Akihito to retire, rather than legislation sponsored by the government, lawmakers in the administration said.
The idea is being floated among members of the administration on the premise that support for such bills based on a broad agreement by the ruling and opposition parties is more consistent with the Constitution than government-sponsored bills, the lawmakers said Thursday.
The Constitution stipulates that the Emperor’s position derives from “the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power.”
Currently, only posthumous succession is allowed, with the 1947 Imperial House Law that sets out rules for Imperial affairs lacking any provision for abdication.
In order for the aging Emperor to vacate the throne, the law would need to be amended or a special law created.
The administration has been considering special legislation effective only for the current Emperor.
However, the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party have insisted that amendments of the Imperial House Law should be made.
The opposition parties say the amendments should be considered to make abdication a permanent system.
The Emperor last month expressed his desire to abdicate in the future, voicing concerns in a rare video message to the public that he could one day be unable to fulfill his role as the symbol of the state because of his age.
The government has set up an advisory panel to discuss the potential abdication, with the panel expected to meet from mid-October.
After receiving the panel’s proposals, speakers of the Upper and Lower Houses are expected to ask for feedback from representatives of the ruling and opposition parties.
The lawmakers said they intend to create the bills in coordination with the administration and parliamentary officials.
While some members of the administration said the government should submit the bill, a senior member of the Abe administration said, “It’s desirable to clearly show the will of the Diet, which represents the Japanese people, through legislation initiated by lawmakers.”
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