Japan’s Emperor Akihito will not step down, the imperial household said today, despite recent media claims that the 82-year-old monarch plans to abdicate, reports Daily Mail.
The imperial household was thrust into chaos yesterday after respected public broadcaster NHK reported that Akihito will step down, citing palace sources.
‘It is absolutely not true,’ Vice Grand Steward Shinichiro Yamamoto told reporters.
The emperor ‘has long refrained from discussing systematic issues out of consideration for his majesty’s constitutional position’ he said.
If Akihito did step down and allow his 56-year-old son, Crown Prince Naruhito, to assume the throne, he would become the first monarch to do so in 200 years, AFP reports.
Akihito has suffered from a number of health ailments, including prostate cancer and heart problems. He recently underwent heart surgery.
Last year, he intimated that he may be limited in performing his ceremonial duties.
Japan's top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported that the government is secretly still considering an abdication.
Although Akibito’s role is strictly ceremonial, an early abdication would send shockwaves through Japan, where the beloved royal family is symbol of solidity.
Akihito was the heir to Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought the Second World War.
Akihibto has spent much of his time as a monarch attempting to heal wounds from the bloody conflict. He has reigned since his father's 1989 death.
The emperor has endeavored to strengthen Japan's image abroad with international visits. He was the first Japanese monarch in living memory to visit China, where memories of Japan's past military aggression run deep.
There is no constitutional mechanism for abdication in Japan, which would make the situation highly irregular.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declined to comment.