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JAPAN Japan's Emperor Akihito expressed his apparent wish to abdicate in a rare public message last summer, and the government is making preparations. Unlike Prince Philip, Akihito is not allowed to make his own decision about retirement.Akihito would be the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years. The government is reportedly considering his abdication at the end of 2018, when Akihito turns 85 and marks 30 years of reign. BELGIUM Belgium's King Albert abdicated in July 2013 for what he said were health reasons, handing over the reins to his son, Philippe, who became the country's seventh monarch.Albert, who turns 83 next month, has kept a low profile since, making rare public appearances. The image and credibility of the royal family matters in this European Union nation, which is riven by divisions between its 6.5 million Dutch-speakers and its 4.5 million French-speakers.
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