Japanese Emperor – level 3
In what was only his second-ever televised address, Japan’s Emperor Akihito this morning indicated his wish to hand over his duties.
The 82 year-old has been on the throne since his father’s death in 1989, but a series of health problems has cast doubt on the future of his reign, though an abdication would be unprecedented.
“As I am now more than 80 years old”, he said, “there are times when I feel various constraints such as in my physical fitness. In the last few years, I’ve started to reflect on my years as the emperor and contemplate my role and my duties as the emperor in the days to come.”
He went on to say, “I think it’s not possible to continue perpetually reducing the Emperor’s actions in matters of state and his duties as the symbol of the state.” Finishing, “I sincerely hope for your understanding.”
Opinion polls show the vast majority of ordinary Japanese people do sympathise with his wish to retire, but legal changes would be needed to make it possible. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacted quickly to the address and said the government would carefully consider what it could do.
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