Friday, July 19

Japan’s emperor Akihito abdicates



Japan’s emperor Akihito has called his 30-year reign a blessing and thanked the people of Japan for their support as he became the country’s first monarch to abdicate in two centuries.

Speaking at a brief ceremony in the state room of the imperial palace a day before his eldest son, Naruhito, takes his place as the new occupant of the chrysanthemum throne, the 85-year-old Akihito said he had spent the 30 years of his reign performing his duties with deep respect and love for the people.

That has been a great blessing, he said, before offering his heartfelt gratitude to the people of Japan who accepted me as the symbol of the state and supported me.

He said he hoped the country’s future would be a stable and fruitful one, and pray with all my heart for peace and for the happiness of people in Japan and around the world.

Akihito, who expressed a desire to abdicate in 2016, fearing his age would make it difficult for him to carry out public duties, entered the Matsu no Ma (Hall of Pine) at the imperial palace early on Tuesday evening and relinquished his title in a short ceremony that was broadcast live on TV.

Earlier the same day, the first Japanese monarch to spend his entire reign stripped of political influence under the country’s postwar constitution, reported his abdication to his ancestors and the Shinto gods at sacred spots inside the imperial palace grounds in Tokyo.