Japan's Emperor Akihito has said he fears age and deteriorating health mean he is finding it difficult to continue in his role.
The revered 82-year-old emperor's comments came in his second-ever televised address to the public.
While he did not use the word "abdicate", he strongly indicated that he wishes to hand over his duties.
PM Shinzo Abe said the government would take the remarks "seriously" and discuss what can be done.
In 10-minute pre-recorded message, Emperor Akihito said he hoped the duties of the emperor as a symbol of the state could continue steadily without any breaks.
Akihito, who has had heart surgery and was treated for prostate cancer, has been on the throne in Japan since the death of his father, Hirohito, in 1989.
If he were to abdicate, it would be the first time a Japanese emperor has down since Emperor Kokaku in 1817.