Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Japan's Imperial House Council set a date for when Emperor Akihito will step down and open a path for his son to succeed him.
The Japanese Cabinet approved a bill granting Akihito to power abdicate in May of this year, after he curtailed public appearances due to his declining health.
The Imperial House Council, which consists of politicians, the judiciary and Imperial family members, initially considered setting the abdication date for December 2018, but delayed it to April to avoid scheduling issues with important year-end and New Year Imperial events.
Akihito's younger son, Prince Akishino, was replaced on the panel by the emperor's brother, Prince Hitachi, because he will become first in line to the throne after his father's abdication.
Japan's constitution defines the emperor as "the symbol of the state" and the position holds no political power.