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Reports: Japan Emperor Akihito Planning to Retire

Left to right, Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, Emperor Akihito, Crown Princess Masako and Empress Michiko acknowledge well-wishers who gathered to celebrate the monarch's 80th birthday at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 23, 2013.

Japanese Emperor Akihito is reportedly planning to abdicate the throne in favor of his son within the next few years, Japanese media reports.

The 82-year-old monarch, who has suffered in recent years from a number of health problems, reportedly told members of the Imperial Household staff of his intentions.

Akihito has been cutting back on his official duties and increasingly transferring them over to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 56.

Kyodo news agency quotes government sources saying that a living succession will require a revision to the law.

The current role of the Japanese emperor is largely that of a "symbol of the state" and holds no political power.

The last Japanese emperor to give up the throne was Emperor Kokaku, who abdicated in 1817.