Japan emperor intends to step down in coming years

July 13, 2016 13:32

TOKYO - Japanese Emperor Akihito intends to step down in coming years, public broadcaster NHK said on Wednesday, a step unprecedented in modern Japan.

The 82-year-old monarch, who has had health problems in recent years, expressed his intention to the Imperial Household Agency, NHK said. It did not cite a reason.

Officials at the agency could not immediately be reached for comment.

Akihito, who has been emperor for 27 years, this year was diagnosed with influenza. Born in 1933, he was heir to Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought World War Two. His heir is Crown Prince Naruhito, aged 56.

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