Japan’s Emperor Akihito has said he fears age and deteriorating health mean he is finding it difficult to continue in his role.
The 82-year-old emperor’s comments came in his second-ever televised address to the public.
There is no legal provision for abdication in Japanese law. A change in law would be required to allow the emperor to stand down.
PM Shinzo Abe said the government would “robustly” discuss the issue.
In 10-minute pre-recorded message, Emperor Akihito said he hoped the duties of the emperor as a symbol of the state could continue steadily without any breaks.
He said one possibility when an emperor could not fulfil his duties because of age or illness was that a regency could be established.
However, even in that case the emperor continued to be the emperor till the end of his life, he said.
Akihito has been on the throne in Japan since the death of his father, Hirohito, in 1989.