Crown Prince Naruhito said on Tuesday he will devote himself "heart and soul" to his job as emperor, just days after a law was enacted allowing his father to abdicate, which would be the first such abdication in two centuries.

Emperor Akihito, 83, who has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer, said in rare public remarks last year he feared age might make it hard for him to continue to fulfill his duties.

The Diet on Friday enacted a law that will allow Akihito to step down and be succeeded by Naruhito, 57, which reports say will take place late in 2018 or early in 2019.