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Emperor OK to abdicate

Japan's cabinet approved Friday a bill to let 83-year-old Emperor Akihito abdicate and allow his elder son Crown Prince Naruhito to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The abdication will be Japan's first in 200 years.

Akihito indicated his desire to abdicate due to his age and health concerns last August, reviving a longstanding debate in Japan over the issue of imperial succession in the 2,000-year-old monarchy.

Akihito was 56 years old when he ascended the throne in January 1989 after the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito. Naruhito is 57.

Women cannot succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne, and the government has avoided divisive issues such as whether women should be included in the current male-only succession.

The only child of Naruhito is a girl. His younger brother Prince Akishino has a young son and two daughters.

The shrinking royal family will lose another member with the coming marriage of Princess Mako, one of Akishino's daughters. When she marries a commoner, she will become one herself.



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