Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito pledged Tuesday to devote himself to the role of emperor as his father did when he assumes the Chrysanthemum Throne.
"I will devote myself body and soul to every single duty," Naruhito said.
Japan's parliament passed a law last Friday allowing Emperor Akihito to abdicate within three years.
In August, Akihito indirectly expressed his wish to abdicate, saying his age and health might start limiting his ability to fulfill his duties.
No date has been announced, but officials are reportedly considering an abdication at the end of 2018, when Akihito turns 85 and his reign is in its 30th year. Akihito would be the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.
Naruhito said he understands and respects his father's feelings.
"While serving many years as a symbol of the people, the emperor has tackled his tasks extremely seriously, taking every one of them close to heart and sincerely seeking out how his ideal role should be," Naruhito said.
Naruhito, 57, the emperor's eldest son and first in line to the throne, made the comments to journalists ahead of a trip to Denmark marking 150 years of diplomatic ties.
Akihito is the first emperor to ascend to the throne with his role defined as the symbol of the people under Japan's post-World War II pacifist Constitution. His father, Hirohito, was worshiped as a living god and was the symbol of Japan's plans to colonize Asia until he renounced his divinity after Japan's defeat.
Akihito has attempted to soothe some of the old wounds from the war and has traveled to areas that once were torn by Japan's aggression. He has repeatedly said he fully respects his constitutional status as a symbol, and he has brought the once-cloistered imperial family closer to the people.