Tokyo, Aug. 8 : Japan's Emperor Akihito in a rare televised address to the nation on Monday hinted that he wants to stand down as he expressed fears for his health and his ability to carry on as emperor.
The 82-year old monarch, in 10-minute pre-recorded speech said he wanted an orderly imperial family succession.
"I am concerned it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole body and soul as I have done so far," the Guardian quoted him, as saying.
The public broadcaster NHK had last month said that Akihito wanted to step down. So far, no Emperor has done so in the modern era, which began with the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The emperor said a decline in his fitness levels had turned his mind to the future. He has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer. Japan's emperor once considered divine is defined as a symbol of the "unity of the people" in the constitution and has no political power.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, suggested the government may be open to changing the laws to allow for a smoother succession.
"We must carefully consider what is possible," he said. This is Akihito's second televised speech to the public. He made the first one after a massive earthquake, deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster hit north-east Japan in March 2011.