Departing Japanese Emperor Akihito thanks the people, prays for peace
Updated : 2019-04-30 14:49:44
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, the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries, has sought during his time on the throne to ease the painful memories of World War Two and reach out to ordinary people, including those marginalised in society. The popular Akihito was the first monarch to take the Chrysanthemum Throne under a post-war constitution that defines the emperor as a symbol of the people without political power. His father, Hirohito, in whose name Japanese troops fought World War Two, was considered a living deity until after Japan's defeat in 1945, when he renounced his divinity. 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. About 300 people attended the ceremony and it was broadcast live on television. Akihito, together with Michiko, his wife of 60 years and the first commoner to marry an imperial heir, carved out an active role as a symbol of reconciliation, peace and democracy.