In what has been described as an unprecedented move in modern Japan, the head of the imperial family, Emperor Akihito, has announced his desire to abdicate in the coming years.

According to reports, Emperor Akihito, aged 82, expressed his intention to the Imperial Household Agency.

Akihito who has been the reigning Emperor of Japan since he acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on January 7, 1989, said that he would abdicate in favour of his eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito, 56, within a few years as he does not wish to remain emperor if he has to reduce his official duties.

The palace has not issued an official report, but public broadcaster NHK, which is Japan’s national public broadcasting organisation reports that it had learned of the emperor’s intention to transfer the position of emperor to the crown prince while still alive.

NHK said: “His wish is to to pass on the role within a few years, and an effort is underway for the emperor himself to express his thoughts widely both domestically and abroad.”

BBC reports that the emperor had been battling with some illnesses which includes prostate cancer over which he had surgery in 2003 and a heart bypass operation four years ago.

Author: Ope Adedeji