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Japan’s Prince Akishino publicly addresses Emperor’s abdication and future of Imperial Family

Japan’s Prince Akishino stepped out and chatted with the media on Wednesday on the occasion of his 51st birthday. Prince Akishino is the younger son of the current Emperor Akihito.

The Prince said it was good that his father expressed wishes to abdicate back in August. His health isn’t as good as it could be. He said, “It was good that [the Emperor] was able to express in an appropriate manner what he had been thinking for a long time.” The Prince told the press this in a conference on 22nd November.

Prince Akishino also stated during the conference, “The Emperor has been thinking of what a symbol of the state should be and also thinking that his advanced age would one day make it impossible for him to fulfil his duties.”

His Imperial Highness has done something uncommon for the Japanese Imperial Family which is appearing before the media as one who could ascend the Chrysanthemum throne. He is openly and publicly stating his views on the televised speech made by his father on 8 August, where the latter expressed his desire to abdicate the throne.

The Prince proposed five years ago that there ought to be a retirement age for emperors. He hopes that his father can dedicate his remaining years to his life’s work and the things he enjoys like music.

Last month, the uncle of the emperor, Takahito, Prince Mikasa, died at 100; there are now only four males left to inherit the throne: Prince Hitachi, 81, the Emperor’s only surviving brother; Crown Prince Naruhito, 56; Prince Akishino, 51; and his 10-year-old son, Prince Hisahito. Prince Akishino himself would be first in line after his brother, Prince Naruhito.

His Imperial Highness also expressed concerns about the ageing and shrinking Imperial Family, saying, “It seems difficult” for the Imperial Family to continue to do the same amount of duties in the future.

“Imperial members who are available will do their duties within their own capacity,” he said.

During his speech in August, the Emperor said, in part: “When I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole being as I have done until now.”

Prince Akishino was asked when he first learned of his father’s wishes to abdicate. He said he had heard them: “occasionally” beginning “a long time ago. I think the Emperor has conveyed his thoughts (about abdication) maximally amid various restrictions.”

The language used by the Emperor could have been considered ‘too direct.’ Therefore, it could’ve been thought of as a political call to abdicate. The Japanese constitution forbids the emperor to ‘exercise’ power over the government.