Emperor's Video Message

Good morning everyone,

You can expect this scorching hot weather to continue for the next week or so...hopefully we'll get a break from it sooner rather than later.

Emperor Akihito, 82, held a rare video address to the public on Monday-actually it was only his second one ever, the first being after the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011. Anyway, in the video, he said he worried that age may make it difficult for him to fully carry out his duties, remarks seen as suggesting the elderly monarch wants to abdicate.In nationally televised remarks, Akihito also said there were limits to reducing the emperor’s duties as the “symbol of the state”, the status accorded him under Japan’s post-war constitution.

Akihito stopped short of saying outright that he wanted to abdicate, which could be interpreted as interfering in politics. “When I consider that my physical fitness 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. Akihito is said to feel strongly that an emperor’s full performance of his duties is integral to his constitutional role, experts say.

Opinion polls show the vast majority of ordinary Japanese sympathise with the emperor’s desire to retire, but such a step would need changes to the law.

Akihito has recently been cutting back on official duties, with his heir, 56-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, taking his place. There were limits to how far that could go, he said on Monday. He also seemed to cast doubt on whether it was appropriate to use a current system that would allow Naruhito to take over as regent if his father were incapacitated. “Even in such cases (of a regency), however, it does not change the fact that the emperor continues to be emperor until the end of his life, even though he is unable to fully carry out his duties as the emperor,” Akihito said. “When the emperor has ill health and his condition becomes serious, I am concerned that, as we have seen in the past, society comes to a standstill and people’s lives are impacted in various ways. The practice in the imperial family has been that the death of the emperor called for events of heavy mourning, continuing every day for two months, followed by funeral events which continue for one year. These various events occur simultaneously with events related to the new era, placing a very heavy strain on those involved in the events, in particular, the family left behind. It occurs to me from time to time to wonder whether it is possible to prevent such a situation.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that, in view of the emperor’s age and the burden of his official duties, it was necessary to consider what steps could be taken.

Akihito took the throne after the death of his father, Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought the war. He has sought to soothe the wounds of the conflict in Asia during trips overseas and tried to bring the monarchy closer to the people.

He's the only emperor I've known living in Japan, I must admit that it would be strange for me to see another person as 'emperor'. Plus I don't want to have to get used to another 'era'...I've just got used to the Heisei Era...(it's only taken me about 10 years...ha ha!)

Have a great day!

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