Ailing Japanese King says he might abdicate

[World News ★★★]


(P1) Japanese King Akihito, 82, says he wants to step down due to his faltering health. “I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole being as I have done until now, “he said in a rare video address to the public on Monday. He did not say exactly when he would abdicate.

(P2) Akihito has been a symbolic ruler for 27 years and his abdication would be unprecedented in modern Japan. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 56, is next in line.

(P3) After the statement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government would take “seriously” the king’s hint that he might abdicate.

(P4) According to state-run broadcaster NHK, Akihito had heart surgery in 2012 and is now being treated for prostate cancer.

WORDS: 134


VOCABULARY: step down, faltering, carry out, abdicate, unprecedented, hint, prostate


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. In your opinion, do you think King Akihito should step down? Why or why not?
  3. Does your country have symbolic leaders? If yes, tell me about one.
  4. Would you like to be a king or queen? Why or why not?


  1. Why is the king thinking about resigning?
  2. On which day did the king make his statement?
  3. How long has the king been the symbolic figure in Japan?
  4. If the king steps down, his wife will take over the throne. (T or F)
  5. Which health problem is the king battling now?


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • as the symbol of the state with my whole being (P1)
  • symbolic ruler (P2)
  • next in line (P2)
  • state-run broadcaster (P4)

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Image source: by “unknown”

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