The Japanese Emperor is stepping down, Emperor Akihito appeared on the balcony of the imperial palace in Tokyo with Empress Michiko, his eldest son and heir Crown Prince Naruhito and other royals to announce his plans.
The Japanese monarch turned 85 on Sunday, the next day he addressed about 82,850 people before his abdication in April. Tokyo citizens cheered and waved Japanese Hinomaru flags as Emperor Akihito appeared on the balcony with members of his big family.
Next April, the emperor will be succeeded in April by his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, so, for Japanese people, Monday’s royal speech could become one of the rarest events. The 85-year-old monarch who has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer, he confessed, his duties should be delegated to younger and more energetic man, his son Naruhito.
Emperor Akihito has become an enormously popular figure since succeeding his father, Hirohito, Japan’s wartime emperor, in January 1989. He has used his reign to call for an honest appraisal of history, including comments that some have interpreted as a gentle swipe at the country’s conservative prime minister, Shinzō Abe.
In his Monday’sadress Japanese people, Akihito has spent much of his reign spreading awareness of Japan’s actions during World War Two under the rule of his father. Despite monarch’s position in Japan is ceremonial and the emperor has no political power, Akihito always had great respect and confidence all over his country.