Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe confirmed to the Associated Press that His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito will abdicate on 30 April 2019 at the age of 85.
Just last week it was reported in The Japan Times that the government had 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.
A meeting of the Imperial House Council was also announced then to take place today to discuss the dates and iron out the details. The meeting had ten members present who included 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 included the Emperor’s younger brother, Prince Hitachi.
The meeting, the eighth in history, was closed to the media, and the Prime Minister confirmed the date after its conclusion. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is expected to give a press briefing later today. Formal cabinet approval is due by 8 December.
The Japanese government is also expected to begin preparing for the Imperial succession of Naruhito now that the date has been set by setting up an organisation headed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga.
After Emperor Akihito’s abdication, he will be called joko and Empress Michiko will be known as jokogo.
The Emperor and Empress’s younger son, Prince Akishino confirmed yesterday that his father would give up all public duties after retiring saying, “The Emperor all along has intended to pass all his public duties including state acts to the next emperor.” Akishino will be first in line to the throne after his brother takes over.
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.