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The government is mulling legal preparations to pave the way for Emperor Akihito’s potential abdication in 2018, a government source said Tuesday.

Responding to the 82-year-old Emperor’s concerns that his age could stop him from fulfilling his role under the Constitution as symbol of the state, the government is considering trying to pass special one-off legislation during the regular Diet session next year, the source said.

The Emperor indicated in a video message that was broadcast nationwide Aug. 8 that he wishes to step down, saying it has been more than 70 years since World War II and in two years he will have been reigning for 30 years.

His remarks were taken by members of the government to suggest he intends to step away in 2018.

As a government panel began looking into the issue Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he hopes the panel will “quietly proceed with discussions without putting schedules first” as the matter pertains to the foundation of the state.

The panel is hoping to hear experts’ views on key issues, including whether abdication is possible and whether legislation should also cover future emperors.

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