Japanese Emperor Akihito, in a rare televised address to the nation, talked about his ill health and cast doubts on his ability to carry out his duties as emperor much longer. He said that he wanted an orderly imperial family succession. Observers speculated that perhaps a regent might be appointed.
But Japanese law says the emperor must serve until death and is barred from appealing directly to be allowed to retire or abdicate. Thus legal changes may be needed for Emperor Akihito to step aside.
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Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida wants Japan to host a trilateral summit with South Korea and China soon. One of the topics is bound to be what to do about North Korea’s saber-rattling.
“The cooperation of Japan, China and South Korea has completely been normalized,” Mr. Kishida said recently.
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The Japanese government has begun work to revise the law governing the imperial family system to permit an emperor to abdicate. Emperor Akihito wants to abdicate, government sources have said. He has been treated for prostate cancer and heart problems.
The 82-year-old monarch is expected to soon speak about his desire to hand over the throne to his 56-year-old son, Crown Prince Naruhito.
The Japan Times noted: “Revision to the Imperial House Law is necessary for an emperor to relinquish the throne while still alive, as the law does not provide for abdication. No succession from a living emperor has taken place for about 200 years.”
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China has strongly criticized Japan over a scramble of military aircraft from the two countries amid a dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
Japan is in an old dispute with China over ownership of a group of islands northeast of Taiwan, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China.
The Chinese Defense Ministry said that two Japanese fighter jets took “provocative actions” at a high speed near a pair of Chinese fighter jets patrolling the sea on June 17.
The Japanese planes used radar to “light up” the Chinese aircraft, the Chinese statement added. Japan has acknowledged that there was a scramble but has denied that there was any radar lock.
“The Japanese plane’s provocative actions caused an accident in the air, endangering the safety of personnel on both sides, and destroying the peace and stability in the region,” China’s Defense Ministry said.
Japan has accused China of escalating military activity in the East China Sea, saying that Japanese emergency scrambles to counter Chinese jets have almost doubled over the past three months.
Reuters reports that Japan “is worried that China is escalating its activity in the East China Sea in response to Tokyo’s pledge to support countries in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Vietnam, that oppose China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.”
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