Japan's Emperor hints at wish to leave throne in his video address to nation

Emperor Akihito says it's time for the nation to establish a regency.

Japan's Emperor Akihito clearly suggested on Monday that he wants to step down, saying that the nation needs a regency to be established, 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.

"In coping with the ageing of the Emperor, I think it is not possible to continue reducing perpetually the Emperor's acts in matters of state and his duties as the symbol of the State," he said.

The 82-year-old monarch further added: "A regency may be established to act in the place of the Emperor when the Emperor cannot fulfill his duties for reasons such as he is not yet of age or he is seriously ill."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government would take the monarch's remarks "seriously" and discuss the necessary steps to be done.

"He has expressed concerns over his age in fulfilling his public duties. The government views his deep-felt thoughts seriously and will firmly think about what to do going forward," Abe told The Straits Times.

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.

Last month the Japanese media reported that there were speculations about his possible abdication.

But in his video message Akhito said that even the establishment of a new authority won't "change the fact that the Emperor continues to be the Emperor till the end of his life, even though he is unable to fully carry out his duties as the Emperor".

Yomiuri Shimbun, a national newspaper reported on Monday that the government is "considering special legislation" that would allow only the present Emperor to resign from the throne.

Although, Emperor Akihito is not believed to have any immediate health issues, but he highlighted his old age in his speech and said "my old age has caused me to make small mistakes at official ceremonies".

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.