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Prince Akishino says he's 'relieved' abdication law was enacted for Emperor

Kyodo, JIJI

Prince Akishino, the younger son of Emperor Akihito, turned 52 on Thursday, and said he is “relieved” that an abdication law was enacted in June to allow the Emperor to pass the throne to his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

“I hope (Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko) will spend time relaxing” after the 83-year-old Emperor’s abdication, Prince Akishino said at a news conference on Nov. 22, prior to his birthday.

At the same time, Prince Akishino dismissed concerns over possible dual authority between the new and old monarchs.

“I can say clearly that it is impossible” that there would be dual authority, as the Emperor plans to pass on all of his public duties to the new Emperor, he said.

Concerns over the possible dual authority arose with details of the post-retirement roles for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko remaining undefined. Historically, Japan has seen ample cases of emperors exercising considerable political authority after they retired.

After the Emperor’s abdication, and once his older brother ascends to the throne, Prince Akishino will become first in line. Regarding his hopes, the prince said, “As it is unprecedented, there are many things that I cannot imagine. I presume (the new duties) would be done through trial and error.”

The prince said he hopes to take on the duties executed by Crown Prince Naruhito “as much as possible.” But concerning who will take on his own current duties, the prince said he needs to consult with the Crown Prince.

Regarding his eldest daughter, Princess Mako, 26, and her fiancé and former university classmate, Kei Komuro, Prince Akishino said his impression of Komuro is that the fiancé is “extremely honest.”

“I have met him a number of times but my impression of him has not changed,” the prince said.

The prince’s wife, Princess Kiko, 51, who also attended the press conference said Komuro had played the piano the other day after she requested it. “We shared time relaxing, listening to the gentle sound,” she said.

“I sincerely hope that the two will build and experience a happy life together,” Princess Kiko added. The couple’s wedding will be held next Nov. 4.

The prince said that he hopes to respect future decisions by his 22-year-old second daughter, Princess Kako, regarding marriage, as he has with Princess Mako. Princess Kako is now studying in Britain.