Japan prince calls for imperial retirement age

Japan`s Prince Akishino has said the country should look to setting a retirement age for its emperor.

Tokyo: Japan`s Prince Akishino has said the
country should look to setting a retirement age for its
emperor, just days after his increasingly frail father was
discharged from a lengthy hospital stay.

The younger son of the royal couple, who is second in
line to the throne, was voicing a rare public opinion to
reporters ahead of his own 46th birthday.

"I think it will become necessary," he said, when asked
by a reporter to comment on an idea of setting a retirement
age for Japanese emperors.

The comment, published in the Japanese press today, came
after his 77-year-old father, Akihito, resumed public duties
following a 19-day stay in hospital, where he was treated for
bronchial pneumonia and fever.

"When you pass a certain age, it gradually becomes
difficult for people to do various things. I think it is an
idea" to set a retirement age, Akishino said, calling for
"more discussion" of the issue.

Japan`s royals rarely comment on public or political
matters, including those touching on the affairs of their own
cloistered family.

But Akishino`s remark comes as Japan is exploring ways to
maintain the staid household in modern times.

Akishino`s son, Hisahito, 5, is the first male born to
the imperial family since Akishino himself, a cause for
concern among traditionalists who support the male-only
succession rule.

Since being stripped of his semi-divine status in the
aftermath of World War II, Japan`s emperor has played a
largely ceremonial role in public life as the titular head of
state, but is held in deep respect by his people.

Akihito`s wife, Empress Michiko also expressed concern
last month about failing health, but said she stands beside
the emperor while listening to the advice of physicians.
Akihito underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2003,
and still receives treatment.

The emperor did not attend a welcome ceremony this month
for the visiting king and queen of Bhutan, the first time he
has missed a meeting with a state guest since he ascended to
the throne in 1989 following the death of his father Hirohito.


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