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Published December 23, 2016
Japan's Emperor Akihito has marked his 83rd birthday, thanking the people for their concern and effort to accommodate his apparent abdication wish.
Akihito said in birthday remarks released Friday that he is "profoundly grateful that many people have lent an ear to my words and are giving sincere thought" to the issue.
Akihito also greeted thousands of well-wishers from the palace balcony.
Akihito, in a rare address in August, indicated his wish to abdicate, citing concerns that his age and health conditions may start limiting his ability to fulfill his duties.
A government-commissioned panel of experts is discussing a possibility of enacting a special law allowing his abdication, without touching more controversial issues, including an option of allowing a female emperor.