TOKYO, May 19 (Xinhua) -- The cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday approved a bill to allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne and hand his duties over to Crown Prince Naruhito.
The bill, crafted only with the current emperor in mind, would allow Emperor Akihito to be the first Japanese emperor that has relinquished the throne in around 200 years.
According to the bill, the emperor and his wife Empress Michiko would keep the honorific title of "heika" which means "Your Majesty" after the abdication.
They are expected to move to Togu Palace where the crown prince and his family currently live, and the new emperor's family will move to the Imperial Palace, said the bill.
The Emperor's Birthday holiday on Dec. 23 will be changed to Feb. 23, the birthday of Crown Prince Naruhito, said the bill.
The bill will also triple the annual budget allocation for the private expenses of Prince Akishino, who will become the first in line after his older brother succeeds to the throne.
The timing of the abdication will be decided under a government ordinance within three years after the law's promulgation after consulting with the Imperial House Council, said the bill.
Local media reported that the government eyes allowing the emperor to abdicate in December 2018, with the emperor's 85th birthday in mind.
The nation's era name (gengo) which lasts for as long as the emperor is on the throne, will possibly change at the beginning of 2019, said the reports.
The bill was submitted to the Diet later on Friday, with the government expecting it to be enacted by the end of the current Diet session in mid-June.
Japan's top government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Friday that the government expects the bill to be passed at the parliament "smoothly," but declined to comment on the possible timing of the abdication.
Japanese Emperor Akihito indicated his wish to relinquish and hand over the throne to the crown prince in a rare video message last August, citing his age.
A six-member government panel was set up last September to hear opinions of experts on the constitution and other fields and to hold discussions on necessary legal changes to enable the emperor to abdicate and on the status of and treatment given to the retired emperor.
One of the major disputed points had been whether to create a permanent abdication system for every emperor, or just a mechanism to enable only the current emperor to abdicate.
The panel submitted last month its final report to the government, suggesting that one-off legislation should be passed on the abdication which would apply only to the current emperor.