End of an Era: Japanese Monarch to Step Down at 83-Years-Old

For the first time in nearly two centuries, a monarch is stepping down in Japan.

Emperor Akihito plans to step down by March of 2019. The 83-year-old has ruled Japan for more than 20 years, but in the next 18 months, he will be handing the position to his son Crown Prince Naruhito.

According to Daily Mail, the Japanese government is planning for the transition between Emperor Akihito’s abdication and Prince Naruhito’s take over.

In June, Japan’s parliament passed a law which would allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate after he has undergone heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer.

Emperor Kokaku was the last Japanese monarch to step down in 1817 – and the move to allow Emperor Akihito the chance to step aside has been met with resistance.

Japan’s leading government spokesman denied that an 18-month timetable had been drawn up.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated that they “are not aware of the report and there is not such fact.” He added, “We will continue to discuss appropriately and will do our best to carry out the emperor’s abdication smoothly.”

Abdication, or to abdicate, is simply the term used to describe a monarch renounce their throne.

The Imperial Household agency are thought to be keen on a spring 2019 deadline as many ritual events are scheduled during the autumn and winter months.

The emperor himself last year admitted that he feared his age might make it hard for him to keep up his duties.

Empress Michiko said in an address on her 83rd birthday that this year’s travels around Japan with Emperor Ahikito might be their last.

The Empress stated that she feels an ‘immeasurable sense of peace’ knowing that they will be allowed to relax and spend ‘quiet days at home.’

I cannot help but wonder what this will mean for the situation at hand concerning North Korea and the United States. Will this transition change anything? I suppose we will have to wait and see!

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Keely Sharp

Keely Sharp

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