Japan`s emperor hints at wish to abdicate, says may be 'difficult' to fulfil duties
Japanese Emperor Akihito has said that his weakening health may make it hard to fulfil his duties, in a speech seen as flagging a possible future abdication.
Tokyo: Japanese Emperor Akihito said Monday he is worried his weakening health may make it hard to fulfil his duties, in a speech seen as flagging a possible future abdication.
"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 in an address to the nation.
"There are times when I feel various constraints such as in my physical fitness," the 82-year-old said.
Akihito spoke obliquely, never mentioning the word abdication, but the government is expected to interpret his comments as meaning his wish is to eventually step down.
It can then begin creating the necessary legal mechanism which currently does not exist.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a swift response to the emperor's speech, said the government would take the emperor's remarks "seriously".
"Considering the emperor's duties, as well as his age and the burden (of the job), we have to firmly look at what we can do," Abe said.