Japan's Emperor Akihito to step down on New Year's Eve 2018: reports

Japan's Emperor Akihito to step down on New Year's Eve 2018: reports

Japan's Emperor Akihito to step down on New Year's Eve 2018: reports

Updated 11 January 2017, 18:40 AEDT

Japan's 83-year-old Emperor Akihito looks like having two more years in the top job before handing over to his son Crown Prince Naruhito.

It looks like Japan's 83-year-old Emperor Akihito will have two more years in the top job.

He hinted to the Japanese Government last August that he would like to step down from his role, citing his advanced years and faltering health.

There is no law which allows an Emperor to abdicate — a change of the statutes is required.

A government committee tasked with coming up with a solution has been talking about the options since October last year.

Now, reports in Japanese newspapers quoting "government sources" say the committee has recommended a one-off law be passed, allowing the current Emperor to stand down.

It has been suggested that the likely date is New Year's Eve 2018.

There are reports that Crown Prince Naruhito would ascend to the throne the following day.

Emperor Akihito began his reign in 1989 upon the death of his father Hirohito after a long illness.

It has been suggested that Emperor Akihito might want to avoid placing his country in a state of limbo if he were to face a similar decline.

He wants his spritely 56-year-old son to take over the reins while he's still young.

Emperor Akihito is a much-loved and widely respected figure who has worked hard to change the perception of the Imperial Household.

For centuries, the Japanese people believed the Emperor was a divine being — Emperor Akihito has worked hard to make sure he is seen as a man of the people.

After the 2011 great east Japan earthquake and tsunami, the Emperor and Empress spent a lot of time meeting and talking to survivors and travelled to the region to offer support throughout the recovery.