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It is unusual for a reigning monarch to announce his abdication, and Japan's modern imperial household system is one that doesn't allow abdication by the emperor-a fact that perhaps accounts for the interest of people outside Japan.
But in the course of Japan's imperial household tradition reaching back to ancient times, instances in which of abdication in favor of a successor are by no means rare.
For certain duties, which we thought ended with death, we now see a modern logic: abdication is possible," Belgian political analyst Pascal Delwit told private television station RTL-TVI.
The abdication of queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in April was not a complete surprise, as both her mother and grandmother before her voluntarily gave up their crowns.