Japan's Emperor Reportedly Planning to Step Down

Akihito, who is 82, said he does not wish to remain the Japanese monarch if he has to reduce his duties, broadcaster NHK reported Wednesday.

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Japanese Emperor Akihito.
Japanese Emperor Akihito.Credit: Issei Kato / Reuters

Japan's Emperor Akihito has expressed his intention to retire and relinquish his title in the next few years, the country's public television broadcaster said Wednesday.

NHK said the 82-year-old Akihito did not wish to remain emperor if he had to reduce his official duties. In recent years, Akihito has made reference to his old age, and the Imperial Household Agency has suggested cutting back on his duties. The Emperor, however, has barely reduced his work load, continuing to attend ceremonies, greeting foreign dignitaries and traveling to northern and southern Japan to comfort residents following deadly earthquakes.

The NHK report Wednesday evening cited unidentified agency sources. The Kyodo News agency carried a similar report that quoted government officials.

It was not known if he has a timeframe in which to relinquish his title to Crown Prince Naruhito. The Imperial Household Agency declined to comment, and denied any speculation about Akihito's health. Imperial law does not specify rules about the timing of succession. The last handover of the position by a living emperor was about 200 years ago.

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