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Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greets New Year well-wishers

  • Akihito, Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Imperial Palace
    Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko wave to well-wishers

    It was his first New Year message since he announced in August that his advancing age and weakening health mean he may no longer be able to carry out his duties, setting the stage for Japan to prepare for an historic abdication.

  • Akihito, Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Imperial Palace
    Crown Princess Masako, left, Crown Prince Naruhito, second left, Prince Akishino, second right, and Princess Kiko

    The Imperial Palace said some 58,600 people attended his address in fine weather, many waving small Japanese flags and shouting “Banzai” or “Long live”.

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