The Latest: Japan’s Emperor Akihito announces his abdication

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on Emperor Akihito’s abdication (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Japan’s Emperor Akihito has announced at a ceremony that he is abdicating, in his final official address to his people.

In the ceremony at the palace on Tuesday, Akihito also thanked his people for their support during his 30-year reign as emperor.

He said it was fortunate for him that he could fulfil his duties with full trust and faith in his people.

Akihito’s reign ends at midnight Tuesday, after which his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, ascends the throne as new emperor.

Naruhito’s ascension will be formalized at a separate ceremony on Wednesday.


4:30 p.m.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga noted that Emperor Akihito’s era ending free of war is what the Japanese wanted.

Suga told reporters Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting endorsed Akihito’s abdication speech, expressed his appreciation to the emperor for his steady effort of reaching out and standing by the people during his 30-year reign.

Suga said, “I renew my gratitude to the emperor and the empress from the bottom of my heart.”

He hoped the new era of emperor-to-be Naruhito will also be the time when each of his people can “make their flowers of hope bloom.” He said the government will do utmost to achieve such a society.

Akihito will make his final address at an abdication ceremony later Tuesday. His son Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne on Wednesday.


3:45 p.m.

Japanese people are visiting shrines and temples and eating dinners marking the end of the Heisei era as Emperor Akihito abdicates.

Akihito visited a shrine to report his retirement to Shinto gods in a morning ritual and later Tuesday will announce his retirement to the royal family and top government officials.

Akihito’s reign runs through midnight when his son Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor and his era begins.

People who visited shrines and temples on Tuesday received stamps dated the last day of the Heisei era, referring to his three-decade reign. Amusement parks and some shops offered free admission and special deals and customers at restaurants ate their last Heisei meals.

Heisei means “achieving peace,” and the name of Naruhito’s era beginning Wednesday is Reiwa, or “beautiful harmony.”


3:15 p.m.

South Korea says President Moon Jae-in has sent a letter to outgoing Japanese Emperor Akihito, expressing gratitude for what Moon described as positive contributions to peace and bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul on Tuesday said the Seoul government also congratulates Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, who on Wednesday will officially become the new Japanese emperor. Kim says the Seoul government will consider sending a delegation to Japan in October when the country plans to hold a coronation ceremony with foreign guests.

Relations between South Korean and Japan have recently sunk to their worst level in recent years over compensation issues related to the Japanese army’s sexual abuse of “comfort women” and forced labor by Koreans during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 through 1945.


10:20 a.m.

Emperor Akihito has begun his abdication rituals as Japan embraces the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era.

TV footage Tuesday morning showed Akihito entering a shrine to report his retirement to Shinto gods. Only part of the ritual was released to the public. In a palace ritual later in the day, he will announce his retirement before other members of the royal family and top government officials.

Akihito’s reign runs through midnight when his son Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor and his era begins.

Akihito has devoted his career to make amends for the victims of a war fought in his father’s name, while bringing the aloof monarchy closer to the people.

Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne in a separate ceremony on Wednesday.

Categories: International News