When they both turn 80, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko wish to turn over two of their public duties to their children, Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife Crown Princess Masako and Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko. The Imperial Household Agency said these two annual duties are visiting kindergartens during spring and homes for the elderly during the fall.
The Imperial Couple said that they wish to pass on these duties to the Princes because interacting with children and the elderly is more appropriate for the younger generation of their family. Since ascending to the throne in 1992, the couple have been visiting a kindergarten every Children’s Day in May and then a home for the elderly on Respect for the Aged Day in September. All in all, they’ve made 21 visits on each of the two public holidays.
At a press conference before his 79th birthday last year, he assured the public of his health after undergoing a heart by-pass surgery in February 2012. He also talked about maintaining the status quo for now with regards to his public duties. Shinichiro Yamamoto, vice-steward of the Imperial Household Agency, said that reducing the workload of the Emperor is something they’re working on, but this passing on of the annual visits is a separate issue that they will figure out. The emperor will turn 80 in December of this year while the empress will celebrate her 80th in October 2014.