TOKYO -- New opinion polls show that an overwhelming majority of Japanese think Emperor Akihito should be allowed to step down and that they favor a permanent option to abdicate rather than a one-time exception.
The Nikkei, the Yomiuri Shimbun, Kyodo News and other media have conducted polls since the emperor addressed the nation in an Aug. 8 video message hinting at his desire to relinquish the throne owing to his age. The current Imperial House Law makes no provision for abdication.
While the wording of the questions differed, 80-90% of respondents to each survey expressed support for that wish. Polls conducted in advance of the message indicated 70-80% support.
Moreover, wide majorities favored allowing future emperors to abdicate as well -- 76% in the Nikkei poll, 80% in Yomiuri's and 76.6% in Kyodo's. Just 14-18% of respondents agreed with the idea of an exception only in Emperor Akihito's case.
Some in the government favor considering other options, such as reducing the emperor's duties, in addition to abdication. But "if there's this level of agreement among the public, the only way forward is a solution premised on abdication," a source close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.