TOKYO - Japanese Emperor Akihito had wanted to announce his abdication plans in December 2015, coinciding with his 82nd birthday, sources from the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday.
However, the announcement was delayed owing to a lack of necessary preparations, reported the Kyodo news agency.
The Emperor finally addressed the nation Monday in a rare televised message where he hinted at his abdication, citing failing health and old age, which he says, makes it difficult for him to carry out his responsibilities effectively.
"It was some years ago, after my two surgeries that I began to feel a decline in my fitness level," said Akihito.
Health complications over the last few years forced Akihito to delegate some of his responsibilities to his eldest son and Crown Prince, the 56-year-old Naruhito.
However, during his ten-minute speech on Monday, the monarch had avoided any direct reference to his abdication plans or when it is likely to take place as it could be considered a breach of the Japanese Constitution.
The Imperial Household Agency, together with the Japanese cabinet, is expected to work on the emperor's resignation, which will require legislative changes.
Current regulation governing the Imperial household has no provisions for a living succession and will require an amendment or a special legislation to facilitate the abdication.
During the press conference held on the occasion of his 82nd birthday on Dec. 23, 2015, Akihito had acknowledged feeling his age more than ever.
The Emperor of Japan underwent a coronary bypass surgery in 2012 and in 2003 was operated upon for prostate cancer.
The hormone therapy that was prescribed to him later led to osteoporosis and in 2008 he had suffered a stomach hemorrhage.