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Japanese Emperor’s abdication announcement may come this autumn

It would seem that we shall receive news on His Imperial Majesty’s abdication ahead of expected schedule if reports coming from the Japanese Times hold weight.

Details regarding the abdication of the Japanese Emperor have been developing ever since His Imperial Majesty indicated a desire to retire from his imperial duties in a rare televised address last year, and the unprecedented event — in modern Japanese history anyway — has generated a great deal of discussion and speculation. No Emperor of Japan has abdicated since the founding of the modern Japanese monarchy under Emperor Meiji during the Meiji Restoration, and the 1947 Constitution provides no framework on how an Emperor could voluntarily relinquish his title.

The past year has largely seen the Japanese Diet and the Imperial Household Agency locked in various discussions and debates on how best to proceed in accommodating the Emperor’s wishes while also ensuring as little disruption to Japanese law and the Constitution as possible. There were also concerns raised about the small size of the Imperial Family, with there now only being a handful of full-time family members remaining, and the number likely to shrink as the princesses marry commoners and lose their imperial status.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe originally indicated that further details, including the date on which the Emperor will formally announce his retirement from the Chrysanthemum Throne, would emerge next summer. Now sources have reported that he intends to move the date forward to this autumn, possibly so that the Japanese people will have more time to prepare for the changes that will inevitably arise with the coming of a new imperial era.

Among many things, Japanese calendars will need to be updated to reflect the era’s new name, and various information databases will also need amending.

The government also wishes to ensure that information relating to the abdication will be released in a “calm environment,” ahead of potentially tumultuous events such as the leadership elections for the governing Liberal Democratic Party next year in September, as well as the upcoming general election. This would further help the Japanese people adjust to the new Emperor before further potential developments on the political scene.

As of yet, nothing has been confirmed, and while the Japanese media is fraught with speculation and gossip, no news source wants to suggest a definitive date just yet. However, with the passing of a new act in the Diet signing into law Emperor Akihito’s abdication — a one-shot piece of legislation that applies to His Imperial Majesty alone — it would seem the abdication will most definitely happen sooner or later.

With that, presumably, the current Heisei Era marking Emperor Akihito’s reign will come to an end, and a new one shall begin upon the accession and coronation of his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

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