Japan emperor raises abdication wish on 83rd birthday
Japanese Emperor Akihito celebrated his 83rd birthday Friday by thanking the public for their welcoming response to a message earlier this year expressing his wish to abdicate.

Kyodo news agency reported that a record number of 33,000 people visited the Imperial Palace, where the emperor and his wife Empress Michiko waved from behind the windowpanes at those gathered in the morning.

In August, Emperor Akihito announced in a speech broadcast directly to the Japanese people that he wanted to hand over the public burdens of the monarchy to his son Crown Prince Naruhito, now 56.

The Imperial Household law governing the emperor’s itinerary, however, has no provision for an imperial abdication as emperors are expected to serve until death.

Any change would require parliament to amend the law.

"I am profoundly grateful that many people have lent an ear to my words and are giving sincere thought to the matter in their respective positions," Emperor Akihito told the public in an address released Friday.

"In August, in consultation with the Cabinet Office, I delivered a message expressing what has been on my mind over the last few years, reflecting on my years as the emperor and contemplating on my role and my duties as the emperor in the days to come," he said.

Kyodo cited a nationwide survey conducted last month regarding the imperial household as showing that nearly 90 percent of the public supported the idea of allowing the emperor to abdicate.

Respondents were split, however, on whether the government should be prompt in deciding on adopting the necessary legislative amendments or deliberate carefully on the matter.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government established an advisory panel in September to review the feasibility of abdication and ways that the burden on the emperor could be alleviated.

The six-member panel is due to compile a report next month on the matter, with its next meeting set for Jan. 11.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, Emperor Akihito takes part in about 250 public meetings and 75 trips both at home and abroad a year.

The household staff has tried to limit his duties, but there are some -- including religious rites -- he can’t easily delegate.
Last Modified: 2016-12-23 11:55:40
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