Japan's Emperor Akihito is 83 years old and in declining health—and he is finally being allowed to step down. Japan's parliament passed a law Friday that will allow Akihito, who became emperor when father Hirohito died in 1989, to abdicate, reports Reuters. Akihito has had heart surgery and prostate cancer and has hinted that his health is making it tough to carry out official duties.
But a ban on emperors making political statements made it impossible for him to just say that he wanted to step down, the BBC reports. The law—which will apply to Akihito alone, not any successors—calls for him to be replaced on the Chrysanthemum Throne within three years by his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, who is currently 57 years old. Reuters notes the abdication will be the first in the country since 1817. (Read more Japan stories.)