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Panel’s report supports letting Japan’s emperor abdicate

TOKYO — A government panel studying a possible abdication of Emperor Akihito of Japan released an interim report Monday in favor of enacting special legislation that would apply to him but not to future monarchs.

The panel is looking at how to accommodate Akihito’s apparent abdication wish, which he expressed last August when he cited concerns that his age and health may start limiting his ability to fulfill his duties. Akihito turned 83 last month.

The report paves the way for a parliamentary discussion. The panel’s final report is expected in the spring, while the government is reportedly eyeing an abdication bill adopted in several months.

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The six-member panel, after interviewing constitutional and monarchy experts, compiled the report suggesting that an abdication under a one-time law would provide flexibility in adapting to each emperor and social environment in the future, while setting a permanent system covering all future emperors would be difficult.

Some experts have said the Imperial House Law, the supreme law overseeing Japan’s monarchy, should be revised.

The report provided pluses and minuses on all options, urging further discussion among lawmakers and the public.

It said the emperor’s title, role, and other details of his post-abdication life would be addressed later.

If legislation is enacted, Emperor Akihito would be the first to abdicate since Emperor Kokaku 200 years ago.

ASSOCIATED PRESS