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Japanese government pinpoints date for Emperor Akihito’s abdication

The Japanese government has reportedly picked out a tentative date for the abdication of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito.

The Japan Times reports that the government has selected 30 April 2019 as the date for the abdication, with the accession to the throne by Crown Prince Naruhito to take place the following day, 1 May.

The Japanese government also announced yesterday that a meeting of the Imperial House Council would take place on 1 December of this year to discuss the dates and iron out the details. The meeting will have ten members present who will include the Prime Minister, the heads of both chambers of the National Diet (Japanese bicameral legislature), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the head of the Imperial Household Agency and two members of the Japanese Imperial Family, which will include the Emperor’s younger brother, Prince Hitachi.

The meeting will be closed to the media, and the decision will be announced afterwards by Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Shinichiro Yamamoto and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

This date would avoid any election distractions, as they are due to take place in March or April of 2019. However, some argue that His Imperial Majesty’s abdication should take place on 31 March instead with 1 April being set as the date for the Crown Prince’s accession. According to the Japan Times, “These dates would offer more convenience for the public because the start of the new gengō (era name), used in the Japanese calendar, would coincide with the start of the fiscal year.”

The abdication date must be selected by the government under an ordinance, and it is believed that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will approve of the date on or around 5 December.

The 83-year-old Emperor announced his desire to abdicate in a televised address in July 2016. It will be the first abdication in almost 200 years, the last being Emperor Kōkaku in 1817. In June of this year, the National Diet approved the bill for his abdication citing that it must take place within three years and only applies to Emperor Akihito.

The Imperial Household Act did not allow for abdication; this led to the Japanese government to create a new law to enable it for the Emperor.

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