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Landmark Law Allowing Emperor Abdication Enacted in Japan (News)

Tokyo, June 9 (Jiji Press)—Japan's parliament enacted on Friday government-sponsored special legislation to allow Emperor Akihito to step down, paving the way for the first succession from a living emperor in about 200 years in the country. The Emperor and Empress of Japan attend a ceremony in Tokyo on June 6, 2017, honoring people designated as Living National Treasures. (©Jiji) At a plena…
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Laying Down New Roots: Imperial Couple Takes Part in Tree-Planting Ceremony (Japan in Photos)

Emperor Akihito and a local schoolchild team up to settle a young sapling as Empress Michiko watches on at an annual tree-planting ceremony, held this year in Uozu, Toyama Prefecture, on May 28, 2017. Among the trees planted by the imperial couple were the locally developed Tateyama sugi, which produces almost no pollen, and the Koshino fuyuzakura, a variety of cherry. (© Jiji)
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Japan to Announce New Era Name in Summer 2018 (News)

Tokyo, May 18 (Jiji Press)—The Japanese government is considering announcing in advance the date for Emperor Akihito's abdication and the new era name in summer 2018, officials said Thursday. Emperor Akihito's abdication and Crown Prince Naruhito's accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne are highly likely to take place in late December 2018, the officials also said. The new era that will follo…
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The Historical Background of How Japan Chooses Its Era NamesKawashima Shin

Japan counts years using a system of era names. The current era is Heisei, which began when Emperor Akihito succeeded his father in 1989. A new era will begin when his heir takes the throne. This article explains the historical background of the system and the procedures by which it is now implemented.
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The Compromise and Contradictions in Emperor Akihito’s Abdication LegislationKasahara Hidehiko

Leaders of both houses of the Japanese Diet have presented Prime Minister Abe Shinzō with their recommendations regarding Emperor Akihito’s abdication. However, their proposal to create one-off legislation for an exceptional case contradicts their further assertion that it will also provide a precedent for future cases.
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Japan Government Mulls Setting Emperor’s Abdication in Late December 2018 (News)

Tokyo, April 12 (Jiji Press)—The Japanese government is now looking at the idea of setting a date for the possible abdication of Emperor Akihito in late December 2018 and starting a new Japanese era on January 1, 2019, informed sources said Wednesday. Both the Imperial succession and the start of a new era were initially seen as likely to be scheduled for New Year's Day. The Imperial Household …
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Inside the Imperial Abdication Panel: A Legal and Political Balancing Act

In the wake of a rare televised address in which Emperor Akihito obliquely conveyed a desire to step down, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō formed a six-member advisory panel to hammer out a legislative solution, given the lack of provision for abdication under current Japanese law. In this exclusive interview, Mikuriya Takashi, the panel’s acting chair, sheds light on the process that culminated in a recommendation for ad hoc legislation permitting abdication on this occasion only.
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Experts Propose Possible Titles for Emperor After Abdication (News)

Tokyo, March 22 (Jiji Press)—A panel set up by the Japanese government heard proposals on Wednesday from guest experts on possible titles for Emperor Akihito after his expected abdication. At the day's panel meeting, the first in about two months, the three experts on the history of the imperial family proposed using the title jōkō (上皇), meaning retired emperor, or daijō tennō (太上天皇), which can…
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Saudi King’s Visit Stirs Business Hopes in Japan (News)

Tokyo, March 13 (Jiji Press)—Saudi King Salman’s four-day visit to Japan from Sunday is stirring hopes for a special business boom in the host nation, with the royal visit seen accompanied by a total of 1,000-1,500 royal family members, government officials, business executives and others. Some 1,000 rooms in luxury hotels have been booked for the king’s delegation, while hundreds of limousines…
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Empress Michiko: The Times and Trials of the Emperor’s Devoted ConsortWatanabe Midori

On August 8, 2016, Emperor Akihito, then aged 82, delivered a statement in which, while using indirect language, he indicated his desire to abdicate. And in October, Empress Michiko, who had just turned 82 herself, prepared written answers to questions from the press, including this passage: “It came as a shock to me . . . to see the words seizen taii  printed in such big letters on the front pa…
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