The Japanese Prime Minister made the announcement today, following a meeting held by the Imperial Household Council.

Ever since news of Emperor Akihito’s plans to abdicate the throne emerged in July last year, the Imperial Household Agency has refrained from making any official announcements about the reports, with the Emperor himself even skirting around the issue in his video message to the public last August.

At 9:46 a.m. today, however, the 10-member Imperial Household Council met at a special conference room at the Imperial Household Agency, where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listened to opinions and gave his government’s recommendations for the date of abdication.

Prime Minister Abe later spoke to the press, announcing that the date of abdication had been set for 30 April 2019.

The meeting, which was attended by members of the royal family, high-level Diet Members and top-ranking Imperial Household Agency officials, comes after the Japanese Government approved a special bill in April, allowing the reigning Emperor to abdicate the throne.

The bill, which specifically names the successor as Crown Prince Hironomiya Naruhito, makes this a one-time provision designed specifically for the current Emperor.

▼ Crown Prince Naruhito is pictured here with his wife Masako and their daughter Aiko.

As Japan’s first abdication in nearly two centuries, this historic event will also bring an end to the country’s current Heisei Era, which, in keeping with the Japanese calendar system, began when Emperor Akihito took to the throne 29 years ago, following his father’s death in 1989.

Following today’s announcement, Prime Minister Abe will inform the Cabinet of the Imperial Household Council’s decision on 5 December, with the Cabinet expected to make the 30 April abdication date official by law on 8 December.

Akihito will be succeeded by his eldest son, 57-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito the day after abdication, on 1 May 2019, with the official name of the new era expected to be announced sometime next summer.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Otakomu
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons/William Ng