FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2016, file photo, Japan's Emperor Akihito waves to well-wishers from a bullet-proofed balcony of the Imperial Palace during New Year's public appearance in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
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Japan's parliament passed a law Friday that clears the way for its ageing Emperor Akihito to step down, in what would be the first imperial abdication in more than two centuries.The popular 83-year-old monarch shocked the country last summer when he signaled his desire to take a back seat after nearly three decades on the Chrysanthemum Throne, citing his age and health problems.The status of the emperor is sensitive in Japan given its 20th century history of war waged in the name of Akihito's father Hirohito, who died in 1989 .Some worried that changing the law to allow any emperor to abdicate could put Japan's future monarchs at risk of being subject to political manipulation.There have been abdications in Japan's long imperial history, but the last one was more than 200 years ago, so politicians had to craft new legislation to make it possible.
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