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>> Will he or won't he? Japanese State Media reporting that 82-year-old Emperor Akihito is eying up an exit, but the imperial palace denies that's true. The Emperor has already had heart surgery and been treated for prostate cancer, and according to broadcaster NHK, he wants to give up the throne in the next few years.
If it happened he'd become the first emperor to abdicate since the early 1800s. Akihito spent much of his time as emperor trying to heal the wounds of war. He famously became the first Japanese Monarch to visit China, 24 years ago, saying he deplored Japan's treatment of the Chinese during World War II.
Last year, he also made a speech encouraging Japan to embrace pacifism in contrast with the country's modern conservative leaders, who have visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to numerous war criminals. In recent years, some of the emperor's duties have been passed on to his eldest son.
56-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito is next in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne.