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Abdication Rare for Japan's Emperors

Abdication by Japanese emperors is rare, the last coming in 1817 when Emperor Kokaku stepped down. Emperor Akihito ascended to the throne following the 1989 death of his father, Emperor Hirohito, continuing a royal lineage that dates back hundreds of years. But the emperor was the first to take over in a new era of a vastly diminished role under a new constitution following Japan's defeat in World War II. The document describes the emperor as "the symbol of the state and of...

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