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Crown Prince Naruhito, on the occasion of his 57th birthday on Thursday, expressed his readiness to ascend the throne as Emperor Akihito is expected to abdicate, possibly next year, becoming the first emperor to do so in nearly 200 years.

The Crown Prince spoke about the 83-year-old Emperor’s possible abdication for the first time since his father indicated his desire to step down in a rare video message last August.

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