Japan's 2,500 year-old monarchy at a crossroads

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For the first time in 2500 years, the Emperor of Japan is asking to step down. Emperor Akihito has been stripped of all authority and can't retire on his own. He's 82 years old and he's suffers from cancer — but abdication has implications beyond his personal problems.

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President Barack Obama with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko (C), Crown Prince Naruhito and
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Tokyo Imperial Palaceon April 24, 2014
State Department photo by William Ng

Herbert Bix is professor emeritus at Binghamton University at the State University of New York. He's author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japana Pulitzer Prize winner for nonfiction.