Gov’t to set up expert panel to discuss emperor’s abdication


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce a plan to set up a panel to discuss Emperor Akihito’s abdication when he delivers a policy speech for the extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Sept 26, a government source says.

The government has decided to seek expert opinion to deepen discussions before beginning legal procedures in response to the 82-year-old emperor’s rare video message to the public on Aug. 8 in which he indicated his desire to abdicate.

Members of the panel will likely include academics specializing on the Constitution, administrative law, history and Japanese traditional culture, the source said.

Although the panel was initially planned to be set up in September, its launch could be delayed to October or later, they added.

In the video message, the emperor voiced concern that he could one day become unable to fulfill his role as the symbol of the state because of his advanced age.

Currently, only posthumous succession is effectively allowed as the Imperial House Law, enacted in 1947, lacks a provision regarding abdication. Amendments or creation of a special law would thus be necessary to enable the emperor to step down.

Abe’s government is considering special legislation effective only for Emperor Akihito, with an eye to submitting relevant bills to the ordinary Diet session next year.

The envisioned special legislation would not involve discussions on complicated Imperial House Law amendments, such as whether to set up a permanent abdication system, or whether to allow a married female member to remain within the imperial family, as the government is eyeing leaving such decision-making for the future.


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