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Japan cabinet approves bill to let Emperor Akihito give up throne

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Emperor Akihito
Asia   The first abdication in nearly 200 years

Japan's cabinet announced Friday it approved a bill allowing Empower Akihito to abdicate, opening a path for his son to succeed him.

The bill still requires parliamentary approval and only applies to the current situation, in which Akihito, 83, announced in May that he and Empress Michiko, 81, would curtail public appearances due to declining health.

The bill allows Akihito to sidestep a ruling requiring an emperor to hold the position for life. It makes no changes to the royal succession protocol, which favors male heirs, and makes no provision for Japan's lack of male heirs.

Japan's NHK broadcasting company, citing officials within the Imperial Household Agency, said Akihito will likely step down in December 2018 in favor of his son, Naruhito, 56, the Guardian reported Friday.

It would be the first abdication in the Japanese monarchy in nearly 200 years.

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