Akihito, Japanese emperor, plans to renounce

Tokyo: Japan’s Emperor Akihito has expressed his desire to abdicate in the next few years. The 82-year-old, who has had health problems in recent years, reportedly does not wish to remain emperor if he has to reduce his official duties.

Crown Prince Naruhito, 56, is next in line to be his successor. But a palace spokesman denied that there is any official plan for the monarch to abdicate in what would be an unprecedented move in modern Japan. However, both palace and government sources say the Imperial Household Law would have to revised to allow for the abdication to take place.

Emperor Akihito has been admired for distancing the monarchy from its association with the aggressive nationalism of World War Two. A change to the Imperial Household Law, which stipulates the rules of succession, would require approval by Japan’s parliament.