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Jeff Kingston: Emperor Akihito's succession offers lessons in modern monarchy

The news that Japanese Emperor Akihito, 82, is thinking of abdicating comes as no surprise, given his declining health in recent years. But his proposed move, reported by Japan's national broadcaster NHK on July 13, carries significant implications for Japan, its efforts at regional reconciliation over its wartime actions and the fate of monarchies around the world.

Known as the "people's emperor," Akihito would be sorely missed by the majority of Japanese, who clearly admire and cherish his role. With Empress Michiko by his side, he has been widely praised for his readiness to show sympathy and support for those in need, from Japan's handicapped to victims of natural disasters. His frequent displays of empathy and compassion help explain why he is so popular, and why he will be a very tough act to follow.

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