Diet deliberations have shown that the government and the ruling and opposition parties differ on how to deal with the Emperor’s wish to abdicate. The government is basically thinking of a special legislation applying only to the present emperor to supplement the Imperial Household Law, but the Democratic Party (DP) and the Japanese Communist Party object to this. The government and the ruling parties plan to pass the law unanimously at the regular Diet session next year if possible, but coordination with the opposition parties may be tricky.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga attach importance to a consensus with the opposition parties because Article 1 of the Constitution stipulates that the emperor “derives his position from the will of the people.” A source at the Kantei (Prime Minister’s Official Residence) observes, “If there is disagreement on the bill (allowing abdication), then ‘the will of the people’ will be in doubt. We would like to build a consensus with the opposition before the bill is submitted to the Diet.”
Many government and ruling party officials are against the revision of the Imperial Household Law to make abdication a permanent system because this will involve complicated systemic changes, such as putting in a mechanism to prevent an emperor from being forced to abdicate against his will.
Meanwhile, DP Secretary General Yoshihiko Noda argued during the House of Representatives representative interpellations that this issue should not be dealt with by a temporary measure, and that the revision of the Imperial Household Law should also be considered. It is believed that Noda is mindful of the results of public opinion polls showing a majority of the people favoring allowing all emperors to abdicate in the future. (Abridged)