Japanese Emperor Akihito abdicates in Tokyo ceremony

Japan’s Emperor Akihito formally abdicated on Tuesday in a short ceremony at the Imperial Palace on Tuesday, giving way to his son after the weight of official duties became too much for the 85-year-old.

Dressed in a morning coat with his wife the Empress Michiko just behind him, Akihito walked in slowly to the throne room at the Imperial Palace. He was thanked by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his service to the nation, before making a short speech that encapsulated the peaceful and humble outlook that marked his reign.

“Since ascending the throne 30 years ago, I have performed my duties as the emperor with a deep sense of trust in and respect for the people, and I consider myself fortunate to have been able to do so,” he said in his last public address in the role.

“I sincerely wish together with the empress that the Reiwa era which begins tomorrow will be a stable and fruitful one, and I pray with all my heart for peace and happiness for all the people in Japan and around the world.”

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