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Japan to approve 2019 date for Emperor Akihito’s abdication

TOKYO — The Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to formally approve on Friday that Emperor Akihito will abdicate on April 30, 2019, in the first such retirement in about 200 years.

The move will follow the decision made by the Imperial House Council, chaired by the premier a week ago, that the emperor will relinquish the Chrysanthemum throne on that date at age 85.

Crown Prince Naruhito, the elder son of the emperor, will succeed the throne on May 1, 2019, at age 59.

In August 2016, Akihito, who will turn 84 on Dec. 23, indicated his apparent desire to abdicate in a rare video message, saying he was concerned that his age and health might one day prevent him from carrying out his duties.

The Japanese parliament enacted a one-time law in June to allow the emperor, who has suffered several bouts of ill health in recent years, to retire from the throne.

Akihito became the 125th emperor in January 1989, at age 55, following the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought World War II. The emperor and Empress Michiko often traveled to disaster-hit areas of the country in their casual attire, talking to affected residents.

Japan’s imperial family claims the world’s longest hereditary lineage, dating back more than 2,600 years.

The last emperor to relinquish the throne was Emperor Kokaku in 1817.

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