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>> Japan paving the way for the first abdication by an emperor in nearly two centuries. Tokyo on Friday approving a bill allowing Emperor Akihito to step down. The 83-year-old hinted at retirement last year, saying he feared his age might make it hard to fulfill his duties. He's expected to abdicate next year, marking nearly three decades on the throne for an emperor.
Japanese law doesn't currently allow an emperor to step down. The last time one did was in 1817. The new bill is a one-off, only allowing Akihito to retire with no provisions for other emperors. It also makes no mention of the controversy surrounding succession. It's a males-only inheritance system, and women leave the imperial family upon marriage.
This week Princess Mako announced she would marry a commoner, which will make her one too. That sparked debate on the shrinking and aging royal family. Akihito has four grandchildren, but the only male is ten years old, raising concern the young prince may be the last.