Japan’s Emperor Akihito Declares Historic Abdication – Reason Why and Who Will Take The Throne Now

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Japan’s 85-year-old monarch was born the son of a deity, but he retires as the people’s Emperor. Nexter.org reports about this historic event and the reasons why such a decision.  

People’s emperor retires

japan-emperor-akihito-resigns-photo

Source: REUTERS

On Tuesday, Emperor Akihito abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne – the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world – becoming the first Japanese monarch in modern history to do so.

His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will be inaugurated as the 126th emperor Wednesday, ushering in the Reiwa era.

japan-emperor-akihito-resigns-photo

The much-loved Akihito will be remembered for connecting with his public in a way that no other Japanese monarch has done and expressing “deep remorse” for the country’s actions during World War II.

After having heart surgery and overcoming prostate cancer in recent years, the monarch cited health reasons for stepping down.

“I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole being, as I have done until now,” the soft-spoken Emperor said in 2016, in his second TV speech in three decades.

It was seen as a plea to Japan’s lawmakers to change the law to allow him to retire. The following year, they did.

japan-emperor-akihito-resigns-photo

 

Why did the emperor decide to abdicate?

Akihito is the first Japanese monarch to voluntarily relinquish the throne since 1817.

The 85-year-old said in a rare address in 2016 that he feared his age would make it hard for him to carry out his duties and strongly hinted that he wanted to stand down.

“When I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the State,” he said then.

japan-emperor-akihito-resigns-photo

 

Akihito had surgery for prostate cancer in 2003 and a heart bypass operation in 2012.

Opinion polls showed that the vast majority of Japan sympathized with the emperor’s desire to retire and a year later parliament enacted a law that made his abdication possible.

People’s emperor

Throughout his three-decade rule, Emperor Akihito has embraced a more “normal” life.

For a start, he became the first Emperor to marry a commoner. The Emperor met Empress Michiko in 1957 during a tennis match in the scenic mountain town of Karuizawa. After they married, the couple often returned to the place where they met.

japan-emperor-akihito-resigns-photo

Source: KEYSTONE-FRANCE

 

But it was in 2011, as the country reeled from the fatal earthquake and tsunami that saw more than 20,000 people die or go missing, that Akihito truly cemented his reputation as a people’s Emperor.

The Emperor made an unprecedented televised address – the first any Japanese Emperor had spoken to the public on TV. “I truly hope the victims of the disaster never give up hope, take care of themselves and live strong for tomorrow,” he said.

A new era

japan-emperor-akihito-resigns-photo

The incoming Naruhito’s name means “a man who will acquire heavenly virtues.”

But the crown prince has shown no hint of harking back to the era of the demi-gods when he ascends to the Japanese throne on May 1.


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Japan's Emperor Akihito Declares Historic Abdication - Reason Why and Who Will Take The Throne Now
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Japan's Emperor Akihito Declares Historic Abdication - Reason Why and Who Will Take The Throne Now
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Japan's 85-year-old monarch was born the son of a deity, but he retires as the people's Emperor. Nexter.org reports about this historic event and the reasons why such decision.  
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