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Due to health issues, Japanese Emperor Akihito will end his three-decade reign today to make way for his son in the country’s first abdication of the Chrysanthemum Throne since 1817.
His 31-year imperial era known as Heisei, which can be translated as “achieving peace”, was set to come to an end with a ceremony attended by about 300 political leaders and dignitaries starting at about 5pm local time at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The next morning, his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will ascend the throne in ceremonies also at the palace.
The ritual-bound process began on Tuesday morning with the emperor, dressed in expansive golden-brown robes and a towering black headpiece, “reporting” his abdication to his ancestors and the gods at several “sanctuaries” at the palace.
the main event will be at precisely 5pm local time, when the 85-year-old will formally step down in a 10-minute ceremony in the Matsu-no-Ma (Room of Pine), considered the most elegant hall in the sumptuous Imperial Palace.
However, Crown Prince Naruhito will not become emperor of Japan until the stroke of midnight and he will “inherit” the regalia at a second ceremony on Wednesday at 10.30am before making his first official public remarks shortly afterwards.
Emperor Akihito, 85, helped modernise the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. He was the first Japanese emperor to marry a commoner – Empress Michiko – and the first to reign entirely under the US-drafted post-war, pacifist Constitution that made the role strictly symbolic.
Details as it unfolds.
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