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Akihito abdicates, Naruhito to ascend on Wednesday (2nd Lead)

IANS  |  Tokyo 

Japan's formally abdicated on Tuesday during a historic ceremony in Tokyo, becoming the country's first to stand down in two centuries.

In his last public address as from the Matsu-no-Ma state room of the Imperial Palace, thanked the Japanese people for their support as his 30-year reign came to an end and said he hoped his successor's time on the throne would be "stable and fruitful".

Akihito's eldest son, Crown Naruhito, will ascend the throne on Wednesday and then a new era called "Reiwa" -- meaning order and harmony -- will begin in Japan's unique calendar. will become Japan's 126th

"Since ascending the throne 30 years ago, I have performed my duties as the Emperor with a deep sense of trust and respect for the people and I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so," 85-year-old said in a speech broadcast live on TV.

"I sincerely wish, together with the (Michiko), that the Reiwa era, which begins tomorrow (Wednesday), will be a stable and fruitful one and I pray, with all my heart, for peace and happiness for all the people in and around the world," the 125th emperor said.

Akihito was given permission to abdicate after saying he felt unable to fulfil his role because of his declining health.

The main "Ceremony of the Abdication" took place in a state room of the Imperial Palace, which was attended by around 300 people, including Shinzo Abe, Crown and

Later, Abe thanked Akihito and for their decades of service, noting that the couple had "stood by the people, giving them courage and hope" in the aftermath of several natural disasters to have struck during his reign.

Akihito's Heisei (achieving peace) reign ended with the symbolic return of two of the "three sacred treasures" (a sword and a jewel), which were placed on stands by palace officials along with the state and privy seals.

Little is known about the regalia, which remained inside boxes throughout the ceremony. The third item - a mirror - is kept at shrine in central

Earlier in the day, Akihito reported his to his ancestors and the Shinto Gods at sacred spots inside the grounds in

US and Russian were among world leaders to send tributes. Trump, who will be the first world leader to meet the new Emperor during a visit to in late May, voiced his "heartfelt appreciation" to the imperial couple, while Putin thanked the Emperor for promoting Japan's ties with

South Korean Moon Jae-in thanked Akihito for his contribution to peace and bilateral ties.

Female members of the imperial family will not be allowed to attend the Wednesday's ceremony, a tradition the government decided to retain despite criticism.

The 59-year-old Naruhito, who spent two years at and wrote his thesis on the history of transport on the Thames, and Crown Princess Masako, a Harvard-educated former career diplomat, will greet the public for the first time as on Saturday.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 30 2019. 19:40 IST