June 2, 2017
Tokyo- The House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan's parliament, on Friday approved a government-sponsored special bill for Emperor Akihito's abdication.
The abdication bill is expected to be enacted as early as June 9, following deliberations in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber.
Emperor Akihito, 83, will be the first Japanese emperor to abdicate under the country's current constitution, created after World War II.
The Lower House approved the bill with support from all parties except the small opposition Liberal Party, which declined to participate in the vote as it objects to introducing a special one-time law to enable the Emperor's abdication.
An Upper House special committee including all parliamentary groups is expected to start deliberations on the bill on Wednesday and hold a vote within the day.
The bill applies only to the current Emperor and stipulates that the abdication should be realized within three years of its promulgation.
It calls for deciding a specific timing for the abdication based on recommendations from the Imperial House Council, which includes Imperial Family members and the heads of the administration, the Diet and the Supreme Court.
The government is considering setting an abdication date around December 2018.
The Lower House steering committee approved the bill on Thursday, along with a supplementary resolution urging the government to consider, soon after the legislation is put into force, a system to allow female Imperial Family members to establish branches of the family, in response to its dwindling membership, as well as ways to ensure stable Imperial succession. (Jiji Press)
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