Political parties still divided over emperor abdication legislation

CULTURE

Japan's political parties remained at odds on Friday over whether to enable aging Emperor Akihito to abdicate under one-off legislation or a permanent system, while there has been no opposition to his actual abdication.

On the second day of a meeting convened by the heads of the two Diet chambers, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party repeated its call for special legislation only applicable to the 83-year-old incumbent, but this time as a supplement to the Imperial Household Law.

The main opposition Democratic Party advocated a permanent system through a revision to the law, which lacks an abdication provision, while the Japanese Communist Party suggested it does not cling to a specific legal format as long as the abdication sets a precedent.

"We are still far apart," said House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima following the meeting at the upper house president's official residence.

The meeting involving all parties will be convened again on Wednesday.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to realize Emperor Akihito's wish to abdicate, as hinted at in a video message he released last August, and make way for Crown Prince Naruhito, 56.

During Friday's session, Masahiko Komura, vice president of the LDP, said his party is "ready to take a measure to clear doubts" about the constitutional grounds of the party's abdication plan and proposed including a supplementary clause in the imperial law.

Japan's Constitution states the inheritance of the Chrysanthemum throne is stipulated in the Imperial Household Law.

Yoshihiko Noda, secretary general of the Democratic Party, said the party has no plans to submit a bill for revising the Imperial Household law at this stage, saying the legislature must be in agreement.

"The LDP has said it does not rule out future abdications, and we are keeping an eye on that," said JCP lawmaker Akira Koike. "We've never said we are against special legislation."

Oshima said an increased effort by the heads of chambers is needed at this stage as they aim to summarize their views into a single Diet view by around mid-March.

Abdication through special legislation has been advocated by the LDP, its junior coalition partner Komeito and two other parties, while an imperial law amendment has been proposed by the Democratic Party and three other opposition parties.

==Kyodo

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