Emperor Akihito abdicates, Japan embraces end of era

Japanese Emperor Akihito, in his final remarks as his three-decade reign drew to a close

on Tuesday, thanked the people for their support and expressed hope for a peaceful future.

Akihito, 85, was the first Japanese monarch enthroned unde

r a post-war Constitution that defines the role of the monarch as a merely a “symbol of the State.”

“To the people who accepted and supported me as a symbol, I express my heartfelt thanks,” Akihito, wearing a Western

-style morning coat, said at a brief abdication ceremony in the Imperial Palace’s Matsu no ma, or Hall of Pine.

“Together with the empress, I hope from my heart that the new Reiwa era that begins tomorrow will be peaceful and fru

itful, and pray for the peace and happiness of our country and the people of the world,” said a solemn Akihito, refer

ring to the new imperial era, standing flanked by Empress Michiko, who wore a long white and grey dress.

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