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Prince Akishino says there needs to be discussion on retirement age for emperor

45 Comments

Prince Akishino has said the country should look to setting a retirement age for its emperor, just days after his increasingly frail father was discharged from a lengthy hospital stay.

The younger son of the royal couple, who is second in line to the throne, was voicing a rare public opinion to reporters ahead of his own 46th birthday.

"I think it will become necessary," he said, when asked by a reporter to comment on an idea of setting a retirement age for Japanese emperors.

The comment, published in the Japanese press on Wednesday, came after his 77-year-old father, Akihito, resumed public duties following a 19-day stay in hospital, where he was treated for bronchial pneumonia and fever.

"When you pass a certain age, it gradually becomes difficult for people to do various things. I think it is an idea" to set a retirement age, Akishino said, calling for "more discussion" of the issue.

Japan's royals rarely comment on public or political matters, including those touching on the affairs of their own cloistered family.

But Akishino's remark comes as Japan is exploring ways to maintain the staid household in modern times.

Akishino's son, Hisahito, 5, is the first male born to the imperial family since Akishino himself, a cause for concern among traditionalists who support the male-only succession rule.

Since being stripped of his semi-divine status in the aftermath of World War II, Japan's emperor has played a largely ceremonial role in public life as the titular head of state, but is held in deep respect by his people.

Akihito's wife, Empress Michiko also expressed concern last month about failing health, but said she stands beside the emperor while listening to the advice of physicians.

Akihito underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2003, and still receives treatment.

The emperor did not attend a welcome ceremony this month for the visiting king and queen of Bhutan, the first time he has missed a meeting with a state guest since he ascended to the throne in 1989 following the death of his father Hirohito.

© AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

45 Comments
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I hope they don't 'retire him'. He's been doing a great job with the Empress. I haven't seen any of the public works or shows of charity from either of the two princes. If / when they replace Emperor Akihito, they better step up their game.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This prince is in a hurry to be emperor and then his son can follow him. Crown Prince Naruhito stands in his way, though.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Totally agreed. Unlike Japanese, he is thinking out side of the box. That's good. .

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I do not like nor trust this Akishino guy! He is POWER HUNGRY!

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

I agree with Ted and Smart on this.

Why do Japanese always look so miserable in most family pictures. I always have to hold in my fustration when taking pictures with my wife's family, they never want to show an inkling of happiness.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It has always been that way for formal pictures JT1023.

If you have a formal picture of 1000 people, and you put one gaijin in there, he or she is easily found by the pearly whites.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Dude! Do something with the hair.......

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japangirl, you are right!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Indeed, they need an age to retire. This poor guy gets rolled out all over the place. While they are at it, can they also get a mandatory retirement age for all the old guys in the diet?? Would do this country a world of good.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I am not defending anyone here, but Emperor has been aged in recent years. He has not missed any official duties he is supposed to do except recent illness. He is 77 years old!! Give him a break and let him enjoy his private retirement!! Emperor of Japan deserve that like everyone else. Please be compassionate and loving.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm not all that keen on OHige-sama - like others have said, he seems a bit too eager to get his made-for-the-purpose son on the throne - but I agree that there should be a retirement age for emperors like there is for everyone else (should be for politicians, too). It's so sad to see a frail old man dragged out and propped up for all these mostly meaningless ceremonies while the younger generations have way too much time on their hands and spend it twiddling their thumbs and waiting for a dead man's shoes.

At least let the old guy have a bit of freedom at the end of his life.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Interesting that the Bhutanese king and queen were recently here to incredible fanfare -- and that the Bhutanese king's father is retired and alive. I wonder if there's some coordination going on to move this forward.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

His brother could be suspected of wanting the job sooner. Even if I doubt that makes a big difference to be Crown Prince or Emperor. Now, either they retire and replace the Emperor in duty and title, or they announce the Emperor's duty is reduced to give greetings on New Year, Sakura and O'bon... or they let the Kunaicho abuse a tired old man.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Who cares about figureheads...

The people who do matter and who should have a mandatory retirement age are politicians.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

He should retire and enjoy the rest of his life farming as he likes it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The Emperor has too many official duties. Give him a rest.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Spread more duties to the younger royals.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This guy needs a makeover. We are in the 21st century now.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Don't knock the guy as "power hungry" or whatever - it's senseless: whatever comes comes through slow drip of primogeniture.

He's just worried about his father, as I am about my mother, who is just a tad younger. She's still quite active, but she doesn't HAVE to be: when she's out for a week or more, she doesn't worry that the gods will strike back with some bad harvest or something.

I think the lad is on to something here. Also, about the female succession issue....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Saw him on NHK this morning and couldn't decide whether it was the pause-filled, monotone speech that was sapping my will to live over my cornflakes, or the scrappy tash that would be more at home on the lip of a bloke with a perm in a Liverpool pub.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The emperor should have done the heroic thing and demanded that people from the Fukushima area be EVACUATED to safety. But alas no, he is a useless figure piece that was of no help to anyone including himself.

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

The Emperor has too many official duties.

At that age one is thankful for any duties. I'll show myself out.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This prince is in a hurry to be emperor and then his son can follow him. Crown Prince Naruhito stands in his way, though.

While he is currently 2nd in line behind the Crown Prince his son, baring any birth of a boy by Masako-sama, is 3rd in line and will be Emperor one day.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Also, about the female succession issue.... Her certainly won't be addressing THAT issue. Anyone with a clue knows what he's done to get a son!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

"At that age one is thankful for any duties. I'll show myself out."

That's exactly the problem with the Emperor. He's too thankful. That's why he needs a rest.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sorry Laguna! I extremely doubt this really worries that his otoosan may need to retire etc...I will say it again Power Hungry!!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yeah, if they set a retirement age then he can kick his older bro out in 30 years and get his son in there. Unless of course they do what the Brits finally did and get into the 21st century & let women inherit. As if.

Can't the Emperor remain in title only & the rest of them take on a bit of "work" on his behalf? What else do they have to do? I would think the Empress would like to put her feet up too. Who else has to work to death, literally?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The mob here just don't seem healthy and spritely like, say, the British so-called royals. I think old Akihito needs a long break - make the other family members do more. Better still - the public should be allowed to elect an Emperor/Empress/Figurehead to do these ceremonial chores.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There's no need for a retirement age. The emperor's father was doing fine at 77. What is needed is a mechanism for abdication. Before the Meiji period, when State Shinto made the emperor into a god, it was very common for emperors to abdicate after only a few years. But gods can't retire. Despite Hirohito's postwar pronouncement to the contrary, the Imperial Household Agency continues to handle the succession issue as if the emperor were a god. I hardly think Akishino is power hungry. He knows the emperor has no power and despite being very bright and articulate in two languages, is compelled to spend most of his time issuing greetings and performing Shinto rites.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I just wish the Emperor a long and healthy life whether he is 'Emperor' or 'retired Emperor' - it isn't exactly an unprecedented thing in Japan in any case. Back in the days when the Emperor still actually had power (days which ended in around 1300) it was common for an Emperor to retire to the monastery although continue running the kingdom from behind the scenes through his son.

The only difference between the traditional 'cloistered Emperor' and the current Emperor retiring would be that there is no control from the retired head, let him have his retirement to rest in his last years.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

'Akishino's son, Hisahito, 5, is the first male born to the imperial family since Akishino himself, a cause for concern among traditionalists who support the male-only succession rule.'

Am I misunderstaning something here? He has an older brother!!!!!!!!!!!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

He has an older brother!!!!!!!!!!!

Older brothers are born before younger brothers.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

He has an older brother!!!!!!!!!!! To be clear, Akishino does, it is the Crown Prince Naruhito, Hisahito has two elder sisters.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

But Akishino’s remark comes as Japan is exploring ways to maintain the staid household in modern times

Really, what "exploring" is going on? All I see is the IHA fighting each and every suggestion of change, no matter how small.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Well, there is certainly precident.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@burakumindes

Better still - the public should be allowed to elect an Emperor/Empress/Figurehead to do these ceremonial chores.

A nice thought, I'm kind of with you in spirit, but it would probably end up with AKB48 as a collective Imperial family - probably not in the nations interest. Or maybe Ozawa??

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Let's not assume incorrectly that people over a certain age should be shuffled off. Non-performers, of course, should go. But we have this incorrect prejudice that elderly people are useless and only young people have vitality and skill. Wrong.

My father has for the past 7 years been the president of the elected strata council of residents which (must by law in Canada) run the affairs of such condominium & town house properties. He is a brilliant administrator and well loved by the property owners. And during that time he has climbed the 8 flights of stairs to their suite 3 times a day without fail (unless he was ill). I can't do that. Why should such talents and vitality whither simply because a person reaches a given birthday? Why should he be shoved out of a job to sit around with nothing to do?

Granted, his is not a paid position, but the duties are as time-consuming as the day to day affairs of any small corporation. The same principle applies to people such as the Emperor. So long as he is well, he can perform his duties. When he is not, he has sons to assist him as they so recently did. Perhaps they should visibly do more. The British Royal Family, being larger, can spread duties and appearances among its members more easily, but there's no reason why the Imperial Family couldn't adopt that kind of model. The sons and daughters-in-law can act as official assistants for public appearances, taking the stress from their aging parents who are both not well from time to time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Didn't the King of Cambdia abdicate & that his son the became King? The Grand Duke of Luxembourg,Queen Juliana of the Netherlands & her mother Queen Willemina all abdicated,(retired) so that their heirs/heiress could become monarch & they in turn could retire.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

philly, the emperor is not in the same situation as your father. He did not choose his 'job' (I assume president of the council isn't an inherited post), his vitality is not good, he is not well, and far from 'pushing' him out of his job people are suggesting that he be allowed to step down.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@cleo

he seems a bit too eager to get his made-for-the-purpose son on the throne.

I hope you are not implying that Prince Akishino's son was concocted in some dark laboratory for some underlying reason are you? Say it isn't so. He was born by two people that wanted to have another child, yes, they are in their late 40's but God works in mysterious ways. They are just lucky.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bass, thank you for a good laugh in the morning!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@JT1023 Why do Japanese always look so miserable in most family pictures. I always have to hold in my fustration when taking pictures with my wife's family, they never want to show an inkling of happiness.

Misery and suffering are seen as being honorable in Japan. Sad but true.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Concocted might not be the right word, and I'm sure the couple don't see their bedroom as a dark laboratory, but the reason is surely not underlying but way out there. A couple in their late 40s wanted to have another child, specifically a son for the obvious reasons. Add in the timing - just when public and political opinion was moving towards changing the law to allow Aiko-chan to succeed - and I think we have a fait accompli.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That little kid reminds me alot of the naughty and ill-mannered Korean Kid that lives next door to me. That's big points off for him, I'm afraid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I find it interesting that people consider the princes "power-hungry" - they seem like the most powerless family in Japan to me! If they really crave power, they should be hankering to join the IHA that controls them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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