TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s much admired Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, 2019, at age 85 in the first such departure from the Chrysanthemum Throne in about 200 years, the government said Friday.
Akihito’s elder son Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the throne a day later, beginning a new as yet unnamed era.
The decision was made Friday at a meeting of the Imperial House Council, which was chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and included parliamentary leaders, supreme court judges and imperial family members.
Akihito expressed his apparent wish to abdicate in August 2016, citing his age and health.
Abe will provide the summary of the meeting at the next Cabinet session early next week ahead of the formal approval expected on Dec. 8, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
“I feel deeply moved that the decision was made smoothly by the Imperial House Council, marking a major step toward an imperial succession,” Abe said.
Suga said the timing was chosen so that Akihito can abdicate after reaching his 30th anniversary on the throne, a milestone. Late April is also more appropriate for many Japanese to embrace the change of an era after settling down from a busy period of travel and job transfers around April 1, the beginning of a new fiscal year.