TOKYO – Japan’s Emperor Akihito, 82, canceled on Monday his annual year-end banquet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe due to ill health, a spokesperson of the Imperial Palace confirmed.
The emperor was also forced to cancel his official agenda on Friday due to cold and fever and since then has been recuperating at home on the advice of his doctors, the spokesperson added.
The Imperial Palace has also decided to postpone to Thursday another event that Akihito was scheduled to attend on Monday, the ceremony of the delivery of letters of credential to new ambassadors in Japan.
In August, Akihito, who will turn 83 this Friday, had announced his wish to abdicate citing old age and fragile health.
However, for the monarch to step down and the Crown Prince to take over the throne, it will require an amendment to the strict norm governing the Japanese Imperial Household since 1947, and which does not allow for abdication while the emperor is alive.
Emperor Akihito has been suffering from ill health since he underwent a heart surgery in 2012, and was also operated upon for prostate cancer in 2003.