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    Japan's Emperor Akihito's waves to well-wishers who gathered at the Imperial Palace to mark his 82nd birthday in Tokyo, Japan

    Japanese Emperor Akihito to Abdicate in April 2019

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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced the abdication date of the country's Emperor Akihito after the decision by the Imperial House Council.

    TOKYO (Sputnik) — Japan’s octogenarian Emperor Akihito will cede the throne on April 30, 2019, with Crown Prince Naruhito succeeding him the following day, the prime minister said Friday.

    Japan’s state NHK broadcaster said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the announcement after he was briefed on the decision by the Imperial House Council, which met earlier in the day to discuss the timing of the abdication.

    Akihito, 83, is expected to become the country's first emperor in two centuries to step down. According to the Japanese Constitution, the emperor has a merely ceremonial role, being a symbol of the nation and of national unity. Akihito has two sons — Crown Prince Naruhito and Akishino — who are first and second in line to become Japan's emperor under the male-only succession system.

    In May, Japan's government allowed the emperor to abdicate, citing his advanced age and declining health. The two houses of the country's parliament have backed the proposal of the government.

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    abdication, Emperor Akihito, Shinzo Abe, Japan
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