Emperor Akihito of Japan has been telling close aides that he wants to abdicate within the next few years and pass the throne to the Crown Prince, public broadcaster NHK reports today.
The Emperor is 82 years old. Sources say that he wants to step down before he is too frail to carry out his duties fully. They also say he has already informed his family members. Akihito this year was diagnosed with influenza.
There are still no official comments from Imperial Household agency if it is planned for the Emperor to address the public.
Born in 1933, he was heir to Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought World War Two. The 82-year-old monarch has spent much of his 27-year reign working to heal the wounds of a war waged across Asia in his father’s name and helped bring the monarchy closer to ordinary citizens.
His successor, Naruhito, is married to a former diplomat, Crown Princess Masako, and has one child, Princess Aiko. Naruhito’s successor would be the son of his younger brother, as women cannot succeed to the throne.
The Imperial law does not specify rules about the timing of succession. The last succession from a living emperor was about 200 years ago.