All papers ran extensive front- and inside-page reports on Emperor Akihito’s televised video message to the public on Aug. 8. Although the Emperor did not explicitly refer to abdication, he expressed hope to abdicate in favor of Crown Prince Naruhito. The Emperor said in the 10-minute video message: “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.”
Prime Minister Abe told reporters that he takes the Emperor’s remarks seriously and that it will be necessary for the nation to hold thorough discussions on what can be done by considering the burden of duties on the Emperor. The GOJ plans to begin as early as next month studying the feasibility of allowing abdication by hearing the opinions of experts. Since Japan’s Imperial House Law does not envisage abdication, a revision of the law or special legislation would be required to make it possible. According to Grand Steward Kazaoka of the Imperial Household Agency, the Emperor has been consulting with senior agency officials over the past five or so years about difficulties in fulfilling his duties in the future, and the officials have been studying the feasibility of abdication.