Japan’s Emperor to Express Intention to Abdicate, NHK Says

Japanese Emperor Akihito, the first to serve from the outset in a purely ceremonial role, will on Monday express his intentions to step down, national broadcaster NHK reported on Friday.

The Emperor, 82, will speak for about 10 minutes about his duties as the symbol of the nation and his desire to abdicate from the throne in a pre-recorded video that will be posted on the Imperial Household Agency’s website at 3 p.m., NHK said, citing unnamed sources. Akihito is the 125th Emperor of Japan, and has reigned since succeeding his father in 1989.

A spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency wasn’t immediately available for comment outside of normal operating hours. NHK first reported in July that the Emperor wished to abdicate “at some point.”

There is no provision in the Imperial Household Law for such a move, and a legal change is likely to be required, according to the public broadcaster.

A recent poll published by the Yomiuri newspaper found that 84 percent of respondents said they think the rule should be changed to allow for abdication.

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