Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved legislation Friday allowing Japan’s emperor to abdicate the throne. If the bill passes parliament and if Emperor Akihito steps down, the event will mark Japan’s first abdication in 200 years.
Akihito heads the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. In a rare televised address last year, the 83-year-old expressed a desire to retire and give his son time to rule: “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.’
The bill is a one-time provision for the emperor step down while he is still alive. Next in line for succession is Crown Prince Naruhito, who is 57.
As The New York Times explains, “Any decision regarding the emperor is…