Japan's crown prince hopes to continue father's legacy

Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito says he hopes to continue the close relationship his father built with the people when he succeeds him as emperor later this year.

Naruhito, who turns 59 on Saturday, will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1 after Emperor Akihito abdicates.

At an annual pre-birthday news conference Thursday, remarks of which were embargoed from publication until Saturday, Naruhito says: "While I continue to prepare for this role, I would like to maintain the past emperors' work. I would like to think about the people and pray for the people."

Akihito's desire to leave the throne revived a debate about the country's 2,000-year-old monarchy, one of the world's oldest, as well as discussion about improving the status of female members of the shrinking royal population.