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Emperor Akihito to Abdicate Throne After Receiving One-Off Government Permission

It’s official: Japanese Emperor Akihito will abdicate from the throne, making him the first Japanese monarch to do so in 200 years.

In the historic bill passed by the Japanese parliament, the 83-year-old Akihito will be allowed to leave the throne, likely by 2018. The bill emphasizes that this exception has been made only for Akihito, meaning that future emperors, such as Akihito’s eldest son Naruhito, won’t be able to use it to retire ahead of time. Like most of the emperors since the 1800s, he will likely have to rule until death.

This bill comes after the emperor made a rare televised address to the country where he strongly hinted that his declining health was making it difficult for him to continue working. Because the royal family isn’t allowed to comment on politics (a legacy from post-World War II reforms to Japan’s constitution), Akihito wasn’t able to openly ask to retire, which would’ve been seen as a comment on the law.

Nonetheless, it seems the country has heard him. Preparations are already underway for Akihito to leave the throne and hand over rulership to Crown Prince Naruhito.

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