Japan’s beloved Emperor Akihito said his time to go is approaching, in a rare television address to the nation Monday.

The 82-year-old monarch said that declining health has made it difficult for him to continue in his official capacity.

Although he never used the word “abdicate,” Akihito made it clear that he will have to step down, ending nearly three decades as the head of the world’s longest-running hereditary monarchy.

“When I consider that my fitness level is gradually declining, 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,” Akihito said during the 11-minute taped message.

Under Japan’s post-World War II constitution, the emperor is designated as “the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people” but has no governmental powers and is not permitted to engage in political activity.

Nonetheless, abdication is a sensitive issue.

Read More- USA Today

Image courtesy of AP