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Special bill on Emperor Akihito's abdication could serve as precedent: Suga

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks on a special bill to allow the abdication of Emperor Akihito, at the House of Representatives Committee on Rules and Administration on the morning of June 1, 2017. (Mainichi)

A special bill to allow Emperor Akihito's abdication could serve as a precedent, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on June 1.

Legislators started deliberating on the bill at the House of Representatives Committee on Rules and Administration and it passed the committee the same day. Suga has taken the position that it would be desirable for the legislation to be a one-off measure restricted to Emperor Akihito, but stated, "It could become a precedent for the future."

Regarding stable imperial succession and the possibility of establishing female-headed branch houses of the Imperial Family, Suga expressed the view that these issues would be considered after the special law came into force within three years.

The special bill is likely to be passed in the lower house on June 2. It is expected to be discussed and passed in the House of Councillors next week.

As a result of current legislation, female members must leave the Imperial Family upon marriage, and Suga stated that measures to prevent a reduction in size of the Imperial Family represent "an important issue that cannot be delayed." However, he added, "Careful procedures to obtain consensus from the public are needed."

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