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Japan panel OKs emperor's abdication

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Emperor Akihito
Emperor   The 83-year-old Akihito

A Japanese government panel ndorsed Emperor Akihito's apparent desire to abdicate as an exception, but avoided a key question of succession amid a declining royal population.

The six-member advisory panel in its final report proposed allowing Akihito to abdicate under legislation that would be specially drafted only for him, to prevent future emperors from easily following suit, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

The report detailed procedures such as the title, status and roles for an abdicated emperor and his heir, but avoided divisive issues such as whether women should be included in the current male-only succession amid concerns about the shrinking royal population, including successors to the throne.

Last August, the 83-year-old Akihito expressed his apparent wish to abdicate, citing his age and health. The elder of the two sons, Crown Prince Naruhito, is first in line to the Chrysanthemum throne.

The government will now write legislation for a parliamentary approval.

Akihito would be the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years. Media reports say officials are considering his abdication at the end of next year, when Akihito turns 85 and marks 30 years on the throne.

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