After the NHK report, however, the Asahi Shimbun, a left-leaning newspaper, reported that Shinichiro Yamamoto, deputy director of the Imperial Household Agency, denied the abdication report, saying that the emperor had “no such intention.”
A spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency could not immediately be reached for comment.
The report of the planned abdication comes just three days after the Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and its allies won a commanding victory in parliamentary elections, capturing two-thirds of the seats in the upper house, the amount required to initiate a constitutional revision. Mr. Abe has long had an ambition to overturn the constitutional clause that calls for Japan’s complete renunciation of war.
Although the emperor has no official political authority, Prince Naruhito could offer a counterpoint to Mr. Abe’s goals. He has repeatedly commended the pacifist Constitution written by the American occupiers in 1947. On the eve of his 55th birthday, in 2015, Prince Naruhito praised the Constitution and said he wanted to “engrave in the mind the preciousness of the peace.”
For the emperor to abdicate, Parliament would have to revise the imperial law, which stipulates that the throne passes on after the death of the monarch.