The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has decided to support the creation of a legal mechanism to allow only Emperor Akihito to abdicate, rather than legislation that would enable him and all future monarchs to relinquish the throne.
The decision, reached Monday during the LDP’s fourth meeting on the matter, contradicts the view of the main opposition Democratic Party, which is seeking establishment of a permanent legal mechanism for abdication.
The LDP, its junior coalition partner, Komeito, and the Democratic Party will soon begin deliberations on the abdication of the 83-year-old Emperor Akihito, following his video message in August that signaled his desire to step down due to his advanced age.
Only senior or other select LDP members have attended the meetings on the issue. Some LDP members, including Shigeru Ishiba, a former LDP secretary-general, have criticized the decision-making process as overly exclusive as the party has not held any related meetings open to all of its lawmakers.
The LDP’s decision is in line with the government’s intention to enact one-off legislation to enable Emperor Akihito’s abdication. Komeito was expected to make clear on Tuesday its preference for a one-time-only abdication mechanism.
Currently, only posthumous succession is effectively allowed as the 1947 Imperial House Law that sets out rules for Imperial affairs lacks a provision regarding abdication.
The LDP also said it is necessary to deliberate ways to secure sustainable Imperial succession separately from the ongoing discussions on abdication.
Since women leave the Imperial family upon marriage under the current Imperial House Law, legislation to enable the establishment of female branches of the Imperial family is expected to be discussed with regard to achieving sustainable succession.
Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima is scheduled to hear opinions on the abdication issue from each party next Monday and the LDP is expected to report its decision at that time.