Japanese parliament clears law allowing Emperor Akihito to abdicate

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Japan’s parliament has passed a historic legislation that allows the present monarch, Emperor Akihito to abdicate the throne. He is the first Japanese monarch to do so in 200 years.

The 83-year old emperor had indicated last year that he wishes to abdicate the throne in light of his age and health impeding his ability to carry out his duties.

According to Japanese imperial law, emperors cannot resign from their posts. As a result, the Japanese parliament has passed the one-off law to allow only Emperor Akihito to pass on the Chrysanthemum Throne to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. Once Prince Naruhito accedes to the throne, he will not be able to abdicate.

A crisis had emerged around Japan’s imperial succession as imperial law dictates that only males in the royal family can inherit the throne. There is a shortage of male heirs in the family, which has led to the emergence of a debate about allowing succession to take place through the royal females. This would allow the oldest imperial throne to continue to survive into the future.