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Politics

Departing Japanese Emperor Akihito thanks the people, prays for peace

Updated : April 30, 2019 02:49 PM IST

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.

Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greet the guests as they leave from the stage after the awarding ceremony of the Midori Academic Prize Friday, April 26, 2019, in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greet the guests as they leave from the stage after the awarding ceremony of the Midori Academic Prize Friday, April 26, 2019, in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greet the guests as they leave from the stage after the awarding ceremony of the Midori Academic Prize Friday, April 26, 2019, in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greet the guests as they leave from the stage after the awarding ceremony of the Midori Academic Prize Friday, April 26, 2019, in Tokyo. (Reuters)
FILE PHOTO: Emperor Akihito pledges to observe the Constitution of Japan during the ceremonies marking his accession to Japan's Chrysanthemum Throne on November 12, 1990. (Reuters)
FILE PHOTO: Emperor Akihito pledges to observe the Constitution of Japan during the ceremonies marking his accession to Japan's Chrysanthemum Throne on November 12, 1990. (Reuters)
Visitors take photos of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, April 29, 2019. (Reuters)
Visitors take photos of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, April 29, 2019. (Reuters)
A policeman stands guard near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, April 30, 2019. (Reuters)
A policeman stands guard near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, April 30, 2019. (Reuters)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend the awarding ceremony of the Midori Academic Prize Friday, April 26, 2019, in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend the awarding ceremony of the Midori Academic Prize Friday, April 26, 2019, in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Royal aficionado Fumiko Shirataki, 78, and her friend show each other photographs they took of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko who passed in front of them at Kodomonokuni in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, April 12, 2019. (Reuters)
Royal aficionado Fumiko Shirataki, 78, and her friend show each other photographs they took of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko who passed in front of them at Kodomonokuni in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, April 12, 2019. (Reuters)
Royal aficionado Fumiko Shirataki, 78, shakes hands with Japan's Empress Michiko near an imperial villa where Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are staying for their recuperation in Hayama town, south of Tokyo, Japan, January 21, 2019. (Reuters)
Royal aficionado Fumiko Shirataki, 78, shakes hands with Japan's Empress Michiko near an imperial villa where Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are staying for their recuperation in Hayama town, south of Tokyo, Japan, January 21, 2019. (Reuters)
Japan's Emperor Akihito walks during a ritual called Taiirei-Tojitsu-Kashikodokoro-Omae-no-gi, a ceremony for the Emperor to report the conduct of the abdication ceremony, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan April 30, 2019, in this photo released by Kyodo. (Kyodo/via Reuters)
Japan's Emperor Akihito walks during a ritual called Taiirei-Tojitsu-Kashikodokoro-Omae-no-gi, a ceremony for the Emperor to report the conduct of the abdication ceremony, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan April 30, 2019, in this photo released by Kyodo. (Kyodo/via Reuters)
People look at a map next to the screening of a news report on Emperor Akihito in Tokyo, Japan, April 30, 2019. (Reuters)
People look at a map next to the screening of a news report on Emperor Akihito in Tokyo, Japan, April 30, 2019. (Reuters)
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