Crown Prince Naruhito accedes to the throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan on Wednesday following the Emperor’s abdication on Tuesday.
The reign of the 125th Emperor lasted 30 years and 114 days. The Emperor was to abdicate under the special measures law on the Imperial House Law. The Emperor and Empress were to become the joko Emperor Emeritus and jokogo Empress Emerita when the new Reiwa era begins on Wednesday.
This is the first abdication of an emperor in 202 years since that of Emperor Kokaku in 1817 and the first under the constitutional system of government.
The Emperor attended the Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi abdication ceremony, which began at 5 p.m. at the Seiden-Matsu-no-Ma state room at the Imperial Palace.
Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, and other adult members of the Imperial family attended the ceremony.
About 300 people, including representatives of the Diet, the central government, the courts and local governments also attended the ceremony.
As the representative of the people, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a speech to express appreciation to the Emperor.
“We will further make utmost efforts to create a bright future for Japan, which will be peaceful, filled with hope and proud, while engraving Your Majesty the Emperor’s footsteps in our memories,” Abe said.
The Emperor then delivered his final address of the Heisei era.
“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,” the Emperor said.
“I sincerely thank the people who accepted and supported me in my role as the symbol of the state,” the Emperor added.
The Imperial Regalia, or the sacred sword and jewels, the Privy Seal — engraved with the words “Tenno Gyoji” — and the State Seal — engraved with the words “Dai Nippon Kokuji” — were placed on stands near the Emperor as evidence of his Imperial status.
A series of abdication-related rituals began on March 12. The Imperial couple visited the mausoleum of Emperor Jimmu in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture; Ise Jingu, a shrine dedicated to the Imperial ancestor Amaterasu Omikami in Ise, Mie Prefecture; and the mausoleum of Emperor Showa, also known as Musashino-no-misasagi, in Hachioji, Tokyo.
The Kenji-to-Shokei-no-gi ceremony in which the crown prince will inherit the Imperial Regalia and Seals as the new emperor and the Sokui-go-Choken-no-gi, first audience by the new emperor after the accession to the throne, are scheduled to be held at the Imperial Palace on Wednesday.