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.

天皇陛下の退位の日程を決めるための皇室会議が宮内庁で開かれ、安倍総理大臣は2019年4月末に天皇陛下が退位することを発表しました。
News sources: NHK, ANNnewsCH
Dec 15
Japanese authorities have found 4 bodies in 2 wooden boats that washed ashore on the Sea of Japan coast in Akita City, Akita Prefecture. (NHK)
Dec 15
Emperor Akihito wishes to step down in an abdication ceremony that is "as simple as possible," without inviting foreign guests and holding a parade, the head of the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday. (Japan Today)
Dec 15
Japan's space agency says its asteroid probe Hayabusa2 is on course to reach its target between Earth and Mars in about 6 months. (NHK)
Dec 14
Officials from a Japanese train operator say a crack was found near the welded joint of one of the key parts and the undercarriage of a Shinkansen bullet train. (NHK)
Dec 14
Osaka University said Wednesday that personal data of around 80,000 students, graduates, staff, former workers and others may have been stolen by hackers. (Japan Times)
Dec 14
For the first time, a Japanese high court has ordered the operator of a nuclear plant not to restart a reactor. (NHK)
Dec 14
The average life expectancy in 2015 for Japanese men was highest in Shiga Prefecture, western Japan, at 81.78 years, a health ministry survey showed Wednesday. (Jiji)
Dec 14
Japan's Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling finding the mayor of Minokamo in Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, guilty of receiving bribes. (Jiji)
Dec 14
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a 72-year-old man over the alleged molestation of a fourth-year middle school girl in a parking lot in Edogawa Ward earlier this year, reports the Sankei Shimbun (tokyoreporter.com)
Dec 14
Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, adopted on Tuesday an income tax reform plan that will bring about heavier burdens on salaried employees earning over 8.5 million yen a year. (Jiji)