ET: TOKYO — Japanese head of state Akihito announced his abdication at a palace ceremony on April 30 in his final address, as the nation embraced the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era.
As he walked out of the room following his speech and officials were taking away the imperial regalia in a box, Akihito turned around, paused and bowed to the audience.
Akihito’s reign will officially end at midnight, when his son Crown Prince Naruhito, who observed Akihito’s abdication ceremony, succeeds him as nation’s 126th head of state.
Naruhito’s wife Masako and daughter Aiko are barred from the ceremony because they are female members of the royal family, a palace tradition that the government upheld despite criticism that it is out of step with modern values.
The role of the Japanese head of state is largely symbolic in Japan’s postwar constitution, and most of Akihito’s duties are managed by a controlling Imperial Household Agency. But Akihito’s dedication in reaching out to the people, especially those suffering or less fortunate, earned him popularity among Japanese people. more here