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Japan’s Emperor Akihito to Abdicate in 2019

Japan's Emperor Akihito, left, and Empress Michiko walk into the compound of the memorial house of Vietnam's nationalist Phan Boi Chau (1867-1940) who campaigned for a strong relationship with Japan to gain Vietnam's independence, in the central city of Hue, Vietnam's former imperial city, March 4, 2017.

Japanese Emperor Akihito will step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne April 30, 2019, the government announced Friday.

He will be succeeded by his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito.

The Imperial House Council made the decision Friday about the date of the abdication.

Last year, the emperor said he was becoming too old and frail to carry out his duties.

“When I consider that my fitness level 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,” Akihito said in 2016 in a rare televised address to the nation.

In recent years, the emperor has had heart surgery, bronchitis and has been treated for prostate cancer.

Legislation was passed earlier this year allowing for the emperor’s abdication, but the timing of the move was left to the Imperial House Council, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Akihito will be the first emperor to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne in 200 years.

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