TOKYO – Empress Michiko had felt awe and respect for husband Akihito when he expressed his desire to abdicate in August, she said Thursday in a statement, released by the Imperial Household Agency on the occasion of her 82nd birthday and where the empress reviewed the most important events of the year.
The empress felt “awe and respect” when she heard the emperor’s message, broadcast on Aug. 8 in which he expressed his desire to abdicate in the next few years due to his advanced age and failing health, the statement said.
The empress admitted the announcement came as a huge surprise and she felt a brief pain when she read news reports of the future abdication.
However, the emperor’s address reflects his thoughts and was drafted after careful discussions with Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino, Michiko added.
Since the emperor’s televised address, the government has begun to work on a special legislation to allow Akihito to abdicate the throne while still alive, which is not allowed by the current Constitution and the Imperial House Law.
The government hopes once the parliamentary procedures are completed, the abdication will take place in 2018, as proposed by the emperor himself to the Imperial Household Agency, according to Japanese media reports.