Idea floated of crown prince ascending throne on Jan 1, 2019
Japan Today -- Jan 11
The government has been considering the possibility of arranging for Crown Prince Naruhito to ascend the throne on Jan 1, 2019, with Emperor Akihito having expressed his desire to abdicate, a government source said Tuesday.

In that event, a new era name would be applied as one is declared for the reign of each emperor under law, the source said. The current Heisei era, meaning "achieving peace," commenced on Jan 8, 1989, the day after the previous Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, passed away.

The idea is being floated as a way to limit the impact of changing era names on people's lives by applying the new one at the start of 2019, according to the source.

The government is in the process of exploring an early succession by the 56-year-old crown prince in light of the emperor's advanced age, the source said.

The 83-year-old emperor strongly hinted at his desire to abdicate in a rare video message in August.

Members of the government took 2018 as the time limit as Emperor Akihito stated in the message, "A major milestone year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has passed, and in two years we will be welcoming the 30th year of Heisei." The 30th year of Heisei falls in 2018.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government plans to submit to the next ordinary Diet session, to be convened later this month, a bill for special legislation that would enable the emperor to abdicate and apply only to him.

Although the first day of 2018 could provide a suitable milestone, if the legislation is enacted as planned, it would be too soon for sufficient preparation, the source said.

As to the timing of the current emperor's retirement, one idea is to include it in the special legislation while another is to stipulate in an ordinance, the source said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has declined to clarify the timing, telling a regular press conference Tuesday that a government-commissioned panel is continuing its discussions, focusing on how to alleviate the burden on the emperor.

The six-member panel is expected to release a report summarizing issues pertaining to the emperor's possible abdication as early as Jan 23.

Before that, the heads and deputy heads of the Diet's two chambers will hold a meeting Jan 16 to discuss how the legislative body should handle the special legislation, the chairman of the House of Representatives steering committee said Tuesday.

News source: Japan Today
Feb 23
Japanese government officials have marked Takeshima Day in a ceremony held in western Japan's Shimane Prefecture. (NHK)
Feb 23
Japan's Foreign Ministry has protested to South Korea over a video clip that calls the body of water between the Japanese archipelago and the Korean Peninsula the "East Sea" instead of the "Sea of Japan". (NHK)
Feb 20
Four major parties in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly agreed Monday to set up a powerful committee to look into the issues dogging the Tsukiji fish market relocation plan and possibly summon former Gov. Shintaro Ishihara as a sworn witness. (Japan Times)
Feb 20
US President Donald Trump has claimed his intervention helped reduce the cost of F-35 fighter jets. He said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe thanked him for lowering the price of the aircraft, which Japan also plans to buy. (NHK)
Feb 20
More than 5,000 people attended a memorial ceremony in Darwin, northern Australia, on Sunday to remember the victims of Japan's World War II airstrike against the city 75 years ago. (Jiji)
Feb 18
A Japanese private school operator linked to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bought state-owned land for 134 million yen, some 800 million yen lower than the appraised value, according to government statements during a parliamentary panel session Friday. (Jiji)
Feb 16
Japanese Defense Ministry sources say Air Self-Defense Force jets have been scrambled a record number of times over the past 10 months. (NHK)
Feb 14
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has decided to support the creation of a legal mechanism to allow only Emperor Akihito to abdicate, rather than legislation that would enable him and all future monarchs to relinquish the throne. (Japan Times)
Feb 14
Slightly more than 70 percent of Japanese people are satisfied with the recent talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a Kyodo News poll conducted Sunday and Monday. (Japan Times)
Feb 13
North Korea says it successfully test-fired an upgraded ballistic missile on Sunday. It says the test verified that its missile technology has improved. (NHK)