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Japanese Emperor Akihito begins historic abdication


IANS Tokyo
Japanese Emperor Akihito will step down from the throne on Tuesday, which will make him the first monarch to abdicate in more than 200 years.
Akihito has been given legal permission to abdicate the Chrysanthemum throne after saying he felt unable to fulfil his role because of his age and declining health, reports the BBC.
The day's ceremonies began with several private rituals in the Imperial Palace.
In the first of the private ceremonies, the 85-year-old Emperor reported his abdication to the mythological ancestors of Japan's imperial family.
The Taiirei-Seiden-nogi, or main Ceremony of the Abdication of His Majesty the Emperor, is expected to take place at the Matsu-no-Ma state room in the Imperial Palace.
It will begin at 5 p.m. with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko entering the room and will last about 10 minutes. Over 330 attendants will also be present.
The ceremony will end with Akihito delivering his final address as Emperor, though he will technically remain emperor until midnight.
Tuesday's events will be the first time anyone alive will get to watch a Japanese abdication ceremony.
On Wednesday morning, Crown Prince Naruhito will inherit the Imperial Treasures in his first ritual as emperor.
He will officially lead the country into the new Reiwa era. It will mark the end of the current Heisei era, which began when Akihito ascended the throne in 1989.
The Emperor in Japan holds no political power but serves as a national symbol.
Akihito will be the first Japanese monarch to voluntarily relinquish the throne since 1817.
He in a rare address in 2016 that he feared his age would make it hard for him to carry out his duties and strongly hinted that he wanted to stand down.

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First Published: Apr 30 2019 | 11:24 AM IST

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