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Japan emperor's plan to end reign has precedent overseas

TOKYO -- Though Emperor Akihito's intention to end his reign in the coming years is unprecedented in modern Japan, the hand-off would follow in a long tradition of monarchs in Europe and elsewhere abdicating for reasons such as age or illness.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands said in January 2013 that she would step down and cede the throne to "a new generation." That April, at the age of 75 and after a 33-year reign, she abdicated in favor of her son, now King Willem-Alexander, becoming the third consecutive Dutch ruler to end her reign during her lifetime. The transition went smoothly, thanks to clear rules for abdication laid out in the country's constitution.

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