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Emperor Akihito prays ahead of Japan’s first abdication in two centuries

Emperor Akihito prays ahead of Japan’s first abdication in two centuries

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Emperor Akihito prayed to a Shinto solar goddess on Tuesday, beginning a day of ceremonies to mark the tip of a three-decade reign by which he sought to ease painful reminiscences of World Warfare Two and convey the monarchy nearer to folks.

Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend a ritual known as Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi, a ceremony for the Emperor’s abdication, on the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan April 30, 2019. Japan Pool/Pool through REUTERS

Akihito, 85, was the primary monarch to take the Chrysanthemum Throne below a post-war structure that defines the emperor as an emblem of the folks with out political energy. His abdication is the primary in two centuries.

His father, Hirohito, in whose identify Japanese troops fought World Warfare Two, was thought-about a residing deity till after Japan’s defeat in 1945, when he renounced his divinity.

Akihito, along with Empress Michiko, his spouse of 60 years and the primary commoner to marry an imperial inheritor, carved out an energetic function as an emblem of reconciliation, peace and democracy.

“I believe the emperor is cherished by the folks. His picture is one in every of encouraging the folks, akin to after disasters, and being near the folks,” Morio Miyamoto, 48, stated as he waited close to a prepare station in Tokyo.

“I hope the following emperor will, just like the Heisei emperor, be near the folks in the identical means,” he stated.

Akihito, who has had therapy for prostate most cancers and coronary heart surgical procedure, stated in a televised deal with in 2016 that he feared his age would make it arduous for him to hold out his duties totally.


Akihito reported his abdication in sanctuaries contained in the Imperial Palace, together with one honoring the solar goddess Amaterasu Omikami, from whom mythology says the imperial line is descended, and two others for departed emperors and Shinto gods.

Video aired on NHK public TV confirmed Akihito, sporting a darkish orange conventional gown and black headdress, strolling slowly into the primary sanctuary as a courtier in a white gown walked behind holding the prepare and one other carried a sword. Crown Prince Naruhito performed the same ceremony, NHK stated.

Forward of the ceremonies, Japanese onlookers and international vacationers gathered outdoors the palace amid tight safety.

“I needed to come back to the Imperial Palace as they (emperor and empress) are like the daddy and mom of the nation,” stated Kimiyo Miyagawa, 68, a housewife from northern Japan who got here together with her daughter to be close to the palace.

“I want to inform them ‘Thanks a lot on your arduous work’,” she stated. “I’m filled with gratitude.”

The abdication will probably be marked by a short and comparatively easy ceremony within the Imperial Palace’s prestigious Matsu no ma, or Corridor of Pine. About 300 folks will attend and it is going to be broadcast dwell on tv.

Attendees on the afternoon abdication ceremony will embody Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, in addition to the heads of each homes of parliament and Supreme Court docket justices.

Imperial chamberlains will carry state and privy seals into the room together with two of Japan’s “Three Sacred Treasures” – a sword and a jewel – which along with a mirror are symbols of the throne. They’re stated to originate in historical mythology.

Abe will announce the abdication and Akihito, sporting Western morning coat, will make his last remarks as emperor.


Not everybody was excited by the imperial changeover.

“It’s a standard day. That form of political stuff is irrelevant to us extraordinary folks,” stated Masato Saito, a 40-year-old development employee. “So long as they make our lives simple to dwell, that’s all I care.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Woman Melania provided their “heartfelt appreciation” to the royal pair in a press release.

Naruhito, 59, will inherit the throne in separate ceremonies on Wednesday. Naruhito, who studied at Oxford, is more likely to proceed an energetic function and along with Harvard-educated Masako give the monarchy a cosmopolitan tinge.

Police have tightened safety close to the Imperial Palace, a 115-hectare web site that’s residence to the emperor and empress within the coronary heart of Tokyo. Media stated a number of thousand cops had been being mobilized within the capital over the following few days.

Tuesday marks the final day of the Heisei imperial period, which started on Jan. eight, 1989, after Akihito inherited the throne. The period noticed financial stagnation, pure disasters and speedy technological change.

Slideshow (16 Pictures)

Akihito formally stays emperor till midnight, when the brand new Reiwa period, which means “stunning concord”, begins.

Japanese historically check with the date by the period identify, or “gengo”, a system initially imported from China, on paperwork, calendars and cash however many individuals additionally use the Western calendar.

Extra reporting by Malcolm Foster and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Modifying by Robert Birsel, Paul Tait and Darren Schuettler

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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