Japan’s Emperor Akihito has recently announced that he is thinking of resigning from his post due to his age and deteriorating health. He said that he wants to hand over the duty to someone who is capable. He had heart surgery and was treated for prostate cancer. He has been on the throne since 1989 after his father’s death.
Who might be the next Emperor?
Akihito’s eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, is the first in line to the Chrysanthemum throne. He is 56 years old now. The next one is his younger brother Prince Akishino. No woman is allowed to inherit the throne. So, Princess Aiko, who is the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito, will never be able to take the throne.
Why is it not possible for the Emperor to abdicate?
There is no room for abdication under the current laws. So, the laws must be changed first before the Emperor can resign from his post. These changes in laws must be approved by parliament as well. There was a debate in 2006 about whether a woman could rise to the throne as the Emperor didn’t have any grandson. But nothing happened as a boy was born to the family later on. A debate on the retirement for the Emperor was also underway in 2011. But no change was made in the law.
The younger generation is supporting the Emperor’s wish to abdicate. They think that the Emperor should step down and rest instead. But the conservative group in the society is opposing this thought.