THE Japanese imperial household has denied news of Emperor Akihito’s plans to step down, insisting that the 82-year-old did not want to abdicate.
The palace denied public broadcaster NHK’s report on Wednesday quoting sources on the emperor’s intention to retire and hand the throne to his son.
According to AFP, observers said the public broadcaster and Kyodo News, which both reported the plans separately, would have been extremely careful on publishing the story after citing palace sources.
The emperor’s 56-year-old son, Crown Prince Naruhito, was said to ascend the throne.
The Imperial Household Agency categorically denied the reports.
“It is absolutely not true,” Vice-Grand Steward Shinichiro Yamamoto was quoted as saying by AFP, as reported by the Straits Times.
The Emperor “has long refrained from discussing systematic issues out of consideration for His Majesty’s constitutional position,” he said.
The monarch has reportedly encountered health problems in recent years, and suffered from a bout of influenza earlier this year, according to Reuters.
Akihito, who has ruled for 27 years, succeeded his father Hirohito in 1989 and was the first of the country’s emperors to hold the position in a merely symbolic capacity.