TOKYO: Japan could pass a one-off bill allowing its retirement-ready emperor to step down, a government panel said on Monday, in what would be the first abdication in over two centuries. The option was one of several presented by the group of experts charged with sorting out the thorny issue. They are reportedly expected to make a final recommendation in March. Last summer, Emperor Akihito, 83, expressed a desire to abdicate after nearly three decades on the Chrysanthemum Throne, one of the world’s oldest monarchies, citing his advancing age and weakening health. The news sent shockwaves across Japan and unleashed a flood of questions. Japan has had abdications in its long imperial history, but the last one was over 200 years ago and there is no mechanism for one under current laws. On Monday, the six-member panel, which was tapped to find the best way forward, said other options include revising the law to allow future emperors to resign if they choose or to install a regent to carry out official duties. “This is a very serious issue and we need to discuss it carefully,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who attended the panel’s meeting.