Emperor's abdication set for April 30, 2019
NHK -- Dec 01
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the Imperial House Council has chosen April 30th, 2019, as the date for Emperor Akihito's abdication, and picked the next day, May first, for Crown Prince Naruhito's accession.

Abe presided over a Council meeting at the Imperial Household Agency on Friday morning. Imperial family members, parliamentary leaders and Supreme Court justices attended.

Abe reported the outcome of the meeting to the Emperor. Later, he made it public at the Prime Minister's Office.

He told reporters that the abdication is the first in about 200 years and the first in Japan's constitutional history.

He said he feels deep emotion now that a major step has been taken toward the Imperial succession.

The Emperor is 83 years old. Last year, he expressed his apparent wish to abdicate, saying it may become hard for him to carry out his duties at an advanced age.

The Diet enacted a special law to allow the Emperor to abdicate. It was promulgated in June.

Abe said the government will swiftly determine the date for the special law to take effect. The Emperor is to step down on that day under the law.

The government is expected to make an official decision at a Cabinet meeting on Friday of next week.

The choice of the end of April 2019 for the Emperor's abdication appears to reflect the government's wish to hold a series of ceremonies in a quiet environment and avoid a busy political schedule. March to April that year will see local elections and Diet debate on the new fiscal year's budget.

A panel led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will discuss specifics for the abdication and accession ceremonies. The panel will be set up probably early next year.

News sources: NHK, ANNnewsCH
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