Japan: Emperor Akihito cancels duties due to cold, fever

The 82-year-old emperor will be taking rest during the weekends at the Imperial Palace.

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Japanese Emperor Akihito has cancelled all morning duties due to cold and fever, an official at the Imperial Household Agency said on Friday. The official said the emperor has no planned duties on Friday afternoon as well as during the weekend. The 82-year-old emperor will be taking rest at the Imperial Palace.

Earlier in August, Akihito indicated that he wants to step down as he fears his age will make it difficult to fulfill his duties.

"When I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the State with my whole being as I have done until now," Emperor Akihito said in a 10-minute video address to the nation.

The emperor's remarks clearly suggested that he wanted to abdicate the throne but this was an unprecedented step in modern Japan and was not possible under current law.

In response to Emperor Akihito's wish, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government would take the monarch's remarks "seriously" and discuss the necessary steps.

There are four male heirs in the royal family including 10-year-old Prince Hisahito, the emperor's only grandson. The three older heirs are Akihito's 80-year-old brother and his two middle-aged sons including Crown Prince Naruhito.

Emperor Akihito will be succeeded by his 56-year-old son Crown Prince Naruhito. Akihito will be the first Japanese emperor in about 200 years to give up the throne.

The Emperor, who has had a heart surgery and been treated for prostate cancer, has been on the throne since the death of his father in 1989.