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Emperor Akihito’s reported wish to abdicate and pass on the throne to Crown Prince Naruhito should be respected by amending relevant laws to make the transition possible once a public consensus is reached on the matter. The 82-year-old Emperor is said to be of the opinion that his position should be filled by someone who can carry out its associated duties as stipulated under the Constitution, and is reported — though denied by government officials — to have expressed his intention to abdicate to people around him since at least a year ago.

The 1947 Imperial House Law says that upon an emperor’s death, the position shall be immediately filled by the first person in line to the throne, but has no provision for an emperor to abdicate. The law will need to be amended to create such a provision, and there seems to be no legitimate reason why an amendment can’t be discussed.

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