Dignity is Essential for Emperor Akihito of Japan to Abdicate: Time is of the Essence

Dignity is Essential for Emperor Akihito of Japan to Abdicate: Time is of the Essence

Hiroshi Saito, Noriko Watanabe, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

TOKYO, Japan (April 24, 2014) U.S. President Barack Obama participates in the  welcome ceremony with their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Imperial Palace during his state visit to Japan. [State Department photo by William Ng/Public domain]

Emperor Akihito of Japan is indicating strongly that abdication is in the interest of the nation because of his declining health. The Emperor was born in 1933 and since he became the leader of the Imperial Household in 1989, then a more gentle soul took responsibility both at home and internationally. Therefore, Akihito reached out in a dignified and sincere way in 2016 but the response remains cumbersome.

Apparently, the Emperor desired to express openly his thoughts on this complex issue in late 2015. However, preparations hadn’t been made in time in December 2015 and sadly the same issue continues to rumble on in early 2017. Indeed, a possible date of January 1, 2019, is being speculated in some media circles for the next Emperor to reign. Yet, given the frailty of Emperor Akihito then time is of the essence. This failing shows the need to listen carefully to the words of the Emperor because he seeks to put the nation first and given the stressful nature of events then more clarity is needed.

New York Times said prior to the Emperor turning 83, that According to NHK, the public broadcaster in Japan, Emperor Akihito, 82, who in 1989 succeeded his father, the wartime emperor Hirohito, told close aides that he intended to pass the throne to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 56, before he dies. No modern emperor has done so: The last emperor to abdicate was Emperor Kokaku, in 1817.”


It must be remembered that treatment for prostate cancer in 2003 and heart surgery in 2012 will have taken its toll on the Emperor, despite recovering. Equally important, the Emperor diligently abides by serving the people of Japan and this also applies to international commitments. Therefore, such a heavy schedule is bound to impact on the Emperor especially with past health concerns and a natural decline in physical strength.

The Emperor said last year, “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.”

In modern Japan the legal framework doesn’t cover the provision of possible abdication, therefore, amendments are needed given the special circumstances of the Emperor. At all times, since the Emperor took over the role in 1989, he serves diligently and reaches out internationally based on his gentle spirit. Therefore, it is now time for the government of Japan to act without hesitation and enact the wishes of the Emperor.



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