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What may happen next if Japan's emperor decides to abdicate

Japan's royal palace has denied reports that Emperor Akihito intends to relinquish his title in the next few years and retire, but the news still raised questions about the possibility of a succession while the 82-year-old emperor is alive. Some key points about the monarchy and what could happen:

A MONARCHY TRANSFORMED: Akihito is the 125th emperor in a line believed to date to the fifth century, making it the world's oldest hereditary monarchy. In the past, the emperor was worshipped as a deity, though that changed after World War II, and Akihito remains a head priest of Japan's indigenous Shinto religion. The emperor is a purely symbolic figure with no political power today, and...