National

Emperor Akihito's abdication date may be announced in September

Originally expected to make an official announcement next summer about the timing of Emperor Akihito’s abdication and the start of the new era, the government may reveal details as early as September, informed sources said.

The government believes moving up the timing of the announcement would ease the transition and reduce the potential impact on people’s daily lives, the sources said.

The government also aims to make the information public “in a calm environment,” ahead of key political events next year, including the scheduled leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in September 2018 and a possible general election.

Chances cannot be ruled out that the new era’s name will be released just before the abdication to avoid any objections, according to the sources.

This, however, may cause problems including for calendar production and information system updates, observers pointed out.

In June, a special law to allow the 83-year-old Emperor to step down was enacted and promulgated. The law stipulates that the Emperor will abdicate by June 2020 and that the government will set the abdication date after consulting with the Imperial Household Council.

The government is now focused on setting the Emperor’s handover of the throne to Crown Prince Naruhito in late December 2018 and the beginning of the new era on New Year’s Day 2019.

Another option under consideration is for the Imperial succession to be realized at the end of March 2019 and for the new Japanese era to start on April 1, the beginning of fiscal 2019.

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