Japan parliament passes emperor abdication law

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PV International Desk : Japan’s lower house of parliament passed a bill Friday that allows ageing Emperor Akihito to step down, as it also called for a rare debate on the role of women in the male-dominated monarchy.

Japan has not had an imperial abdication in two centuries and there was no law to deal with 83-year-old Akihito’s surprise retirement request after nearly three decades on the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The popular monarch shocked the country last summer when he signalled his desire to hand the crown to his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, citing age and declining health — he has been treated for prostate cancer and had heart surgery.

The one-off bill is widely expected to become law next week after passage through the upper house.

The abdication must take place within three years of the bill becoming law or it expires — and it only applies to Akihito.