Japan's Emperor Akihito hints at wish to abdicate


#1

BBC News:

Japan’s Emperor Akihito hints at wish to abdicate

Japan’s Emperor Akihito has strongly indicated he wants to step down, saying he fears his age will make it difficult to fulfil his duties.The revered 82-year-old emperor’s comments came in only his second-ever televised address to the public.
Emperor Akihito did not explicitly say he wanted to abdicate as he is barred from making political statements.
PM Shinzo Abe said the government would take the remarks “seriously” and discuss what could be done.

“Upon reflecting how he handles his official duty and so on, his age and the current situation of how he works, I do respect the heavy responsibility the emperor must be feeling and I believe we need to think hard about what we can do,” he said.
Akihito, who has had heart surgery and was treated for prostate cancer, has been on the throne in Japan since the death of his father, Hirohito, in 1989.
In his 10-minute pre-recorded message, he said he had “started to reflect” on his years as as emperor, and contemplate his position in the years to come.


#2

This is a big new story but I’m not sure why. If he wants to abdicate, let him abdicate already.


#3

There have been at least 62 emperors who abdicated. None of them since the Meiji period, though.


#4

I wonder what his duties actually consist of? My assumption is that his role is similar to that of Queen Elizabeth II…


#5

I don’t know that Occidentals can possibly know what all purposes the emperor serves or what any of his statements or actions are intended to convey. There is symbolism in whatever an emperor does, and I don’t know that Akihito is an exception to that. His very marriage to a commoner from a business family was widely regarded as an endorsement of Japan’s emphasis on manufacture and trade as a means of sustaining the nation. With Hirohito, of course, it was force of arms and imperialism and during the imperialist period, his symbolism was of that sort. After the war, his activities turned to studying sea slugs; a scientific but rather lowly undertaking reflecting Japan’s reduced status and his role in making it that way.


#6

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