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Fate of Japan's emperor rests with the people

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Emperor Akihito has a firm conviction about what it means to be a symbol.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Japanese Emperor Akihito's message Monday conveyed his belief that as a symbol, he achieves meaning by working for the nation and its people.

Nowhere in Japanese law does it say this, nor have jurists, historians or politicians defined the emperor's role in this way. But Akihito has had many years to think about what it means to be a symbol.

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