Emperor Akihito Abdicates After 30 Years

Society Imperial Family

Japan’s Emperor Akihito has abdicated after more than 30 years on the Chrysanthemum Throne. In a short ceremony at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace on April 30, the 85-year old emperor formally ended his reign, opening the way for his son Crown Prince Naruhito to ascend the throne on May 1. He is the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in more than 200 years.

Around 300 people attended the ceremony held at the Matsu-no-ma room, including Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and other high-ranking government officials. Surrounded by other members of the imperial family, Akihito made his final address as emperor in which he expressed his joy and gratitude at serving as a symbol of the people. The emperor also relinquished the sword and comma-shaped magatama bead that are part of the shintai, or Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Household, and the imperial and state seals.

Akihito will remain emperor until the Heisei era (1989–2019) ends at midnight and the Reiwa era  begins. After retirement, he will be known as emperor emeritus and will move with his wife Empress Michiko, who after retirement will take the title empress emerita, from the Imperial Palace to the Tōgū Palace inside the Akasaka Estate.

Emperor Akihito's Abdication Speech (April 30, 2019)

Today, I am concluding my duties as the Emperor.

I would like to offer my deep gratitude to the words just spoken by Prime Minister Abe Shinzō on behalf of the people of Japan.

Since ascending the throne 30 years ago, I have performed my duties as the Emperor with a deep sense of trust in and respect for the people, and I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so. I sincerely thank the people who accepted and supported me in my role as the symbol of the State.

I sincerely wish, together with the Empress, that the Reiwa era, which begins tomorrow, will be a stable and fruitful one, and I pray, with all my heart, for peace and happiness for all the people in Japan and around the world.

Transcript (Imperial Household Agency website)

(Banner photo: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at his abdication ceremony at the Imperial Palace on April 30, 2019. © Jiji.)

emperor imperial family abdication