Emperor Akihito of Japan gives rare TV address with hints of abdication

Japan's Emperor Akihito was candid with his nation as he discussed his concerns regarding his health and ability to rule in a rare TV address. The revered ruler, who seems to be hinting at his desire to stand down, strongly indicated his desire to hand over his duties at age 82 despite never using the word abdicate during the 10-minute address.

"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," he said. "There are times when I feel various constraints, such as in my physical fitness."

TAP TO VIEW GALLERYEmperor Akihito making an announcement on television Emperor Akihito has hinted at his desire to abdicate in a television address

Emperor Akihito, who has had heart surgery and been treated for prostate cancer, has been on the throne since the death of his father, Hirohito, in 1989. If he were to abdicate, it would be the first time a Japanese emperor has stepped down since Emperor Kokaku in 1817.

WHO WILL BE JAPAN'S NEW EMPEROR AFTER AKIHITO ABDICATES?

Following the broadcast, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government would take the remarks "seriously" and see what could be done. Currently, abdication is not mentioned under existing laws and parliament would need to approve changes for the emperor to stand down.

Next in line to the Japanese throne is Akihito's son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 56. According to Japan's Imperial House law, the emperor must be succeeded by the nearest male relative.

Prince Naruhito and Princess masako Akihito's son Naruhito is next in line to the Japanese throne

Naruhito shares one daughter Princess Aiko, 14, with his wife Crown Princess Masako. When the crown prince ascends, his wife Masako will become empress consort.

However their daughter Aiko is not in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne because laws of succession in Japan forbid inheritance by or through females. Instead, Naruhito's younger brother Prince Fumihito, 50, is second in line.

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