Japan enacts law allowing Emperor to abdicate

Terrell Bush
June 10, 2017

It is the beginning of a new era in Japan, as the country's parliament has passed a bill that will allow the aging Emperor Akihito to resign in late 2018.

The legislation, which had already cleared the lower house, was triggered by a rare televised address previous year...

The abdication of Emperor Akihito, 83, would be the first in about 200 years when it takes place at the end of 2018, according to the Japan Times. Although abdications were historically not uncommon, the previous imperial house law set in 1889 required monarchs to reign until they died to avoid conflicts between reigning and retired emperors.

With the emperor stepping down, debate has emerged about the role of women in the world's oldest hereditary monarchy, CNN ntoed.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative government supports male-only succession.

A couple looks at television screens showing a speech to the nation by Japanese Emperor Akihito.

According to a 2005 government panel on the imperial succession system, about half of Japan's 125 emperors - though the first several were believed to be mythical - were children born to a concubine or their descendants. As the Japan Times explained, there have been concerns in recent years that the royal family isn't producing enough male heirs to continue this bloodline, and Akihito's abdication has made those concerns all the more pertinent.

The scarcity of young men in the family has prompted talk of alternatives, including letting women ascend the throne, though traditionalists abhor the idea.

Parliament has called on the government to "consider" plans to allow female members to stay in the royal family even after their marriage with commoners. The monarchy is also facing pressure from the public to allow women to rule, as the imperial household shrinks and male heirs are in short supply.

His father was allowed to remain on the throne after Japan's defeat, but his status was downgraded from semi-devine sovereign to a figurehead with no political power.

The greatest threat to the imperial family's long history came with Japan's defeat in World War II.

The Imperial family allowance will be tripled for Prince Akishino, who will become first in line to the throne after the Emperor abdicates.

True to his education, Akihito deviated from the tradition and married a commoner, Michiko, sending shockwaves across the Japanese people.

Added to the abdication bill is a draft resolution that potentially questions whether women who marry outside the family have to rescind their royal rights.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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