Japanese lawmakers pass law letting Emperor Akihito abdicate

EPA (FILE) JAPAN ROYALTY EMPEROR AKIHITO HUM PEOPLE JPN TO

Japan’s Emperor Akihito waves to well-wishers through a bullet-proof glass from a balcony during the New Year’s public appearance at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, Japan, on Jan. 2, 2017. (Photo: Franck Robichon, EPA)

Japan’s Parliament passed a law on Friday to let 82-year-old Emperor Akihito become the country’s first monarch in 200 years to abdicate. In August, Akihito said that he wanted to step down due to declining health and old age. The government backs male-only succession, which would make Crown Prince Naruhito, 57, next in line. In post-World War II Japan, the emperor cannot get involved in politics or have any governmental powers, but serves as “the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people.” Under the new law, Akihito has three years to abdicate.

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