Japan‘s Emperor Akihito has declared his abdication in a historic ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
In his last public address as emperor, Akihito handed over the symbols of power and thanked the public for their support during his 30-year reign.
The 85-year-old was given permission to abdicate after saying he felt unable to fulfil his role because of his age and declining health. He is the first Japanese monarch to stand down in more than 200 years.
Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the throne on Wednesday, beginning a new era – called Reiwa – in Japan’s unique calendar.
While the emperor holds no political power, he serves as a national figurehead. Akihito’s reign has been marked by his interactions with people suffering from disease and disaster, which have endeared him to many Japanese people.
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