National

Special panel set to formally approve Emperor Akihito’s abdication date as April 30, 2019

Kyodo

The Cabinet will officially approve on Friday a plan setting April 30, 2019 as the date for Emperor Akihito’s abdication, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

Suga told Cabinet members during a morning meeting about discussions last Friday by a special panel on key Imperial issues that approved the planned date for the 83-year-old Emperor to step down.

The Emperor’s eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 57, will succeed the throne on May 1, 2019, in what will be Japan’s first succession from a living emperor in about 200 years.

Suga told a news conference later that the government will handle preparations for the abdication appropriately, saying it “will deal with the matter properly, taking into consideration the possible impact on the people’s lives.”

The Emperor’s abdication will end the current Heisei Era in its 31st year. The government is expected to announce the name of the new era in the middle of next year.

The government will set up an organization early next year to prepare for ceremonies to mark the succession. Suga said work also includes forming a support unit for the retired Emperor and preparing his housing.

Emperor Akihito expressed his apparent desire to abdicate in a rare televised video message in August last year, citing his advanced age and weakening health. Posthumous succession has been the norm as the Imperial House Law has no provision on abdication.

In June, the Diet enacted special one-off legislation to enable the Emperor to step down.

Friday’s panel meeting came as part of a legal requirement for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to hear opinions from the Imperial Household Council involving lawmakers, the judiciary and Imperial family members before deciding on the abdication date.