Emperor Akihito becomes first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years

Baku, April 30, AZERTAC 

Japan's Emperor Akihito formally abdicated Tuesday during a historic ceremony in Tokyo, becoming the country's first monarch to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne in two centuries.

Akihito's reign -- and the Heisei era -- officially ends at midnight on Tuesday. Hereafter the 85-year-old will be known as Emperor Emeritus Akihito.

Akihito, along with Empress Michiko and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, attended a short ceremony at 5 p.m. local time in the Matsu-no-Ma state room of the Imperial Palace.

Outside, throngs of well-wishers, both Japanese and visitors from overseas, waited in the rain-soaked grounds. In a rare instance of speaking live on television, the ruler said that he had performed his duties as the emperor with a "deep sense of trust and respect" for the Japanese people. "I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so," he said at the small abdication ceremony.

"I sincerely wish, together with the Empress, that the Reiwa era, which begins tomorrow, will be a stable and fruitful one." His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will be inaugurated as the 126th emperor Wednesday, ushering in the Reiwa era.

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