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Tokyo – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Emperor Akihito plans to abdicate on April 30, 2019, in the first such abdication in about 200 years.

The emperor will be 85 by then and has cited his age as a concern. Akihito’s elder son Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the throne a day later, on May 1, 2019, beginning a new era.

The decision was made Friday at a meeting of the Imperial House Council, which included politicians, judicial officials and imperial family members.

Formal Cabinet approval of the decision is due on Dec. 8.

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