In pictures: Japan reacts to Emperor Akihito's speech

A man looks at television screens showing a speech by Japanese Emperor Akihito to the nation, are displayed at an electronic shop in Tokyo on August 8, 2016. Image copyright Getty Images

Japan came to a brief standstill on Monday as crowds gathered to watch the country's Emperor Akihito's second-ever televised message to the public.

Age and deteriorating health meant that he was finding it difficult to continue his role, the 82-year-old emperor said.

He stopped short of using the word "abdicate", but indicated a strong wish to hand over his duties.

Opinion polls showed that the vast majority of Japan sympathised with the emperor's desire to retire.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Japanese citizens gathered at large screens across the country to watch the emperor's video message, his second-ever national public address.
Image copyright AP
Image caption This man bowed towards the Imperial Palace whilst listening to Emperor Akihito's speech. The 82-year-old has had heart surgery and been treated for prostate cancer.
Image copyright AP
Image caption Those without giant screens tuned in to their phones to hear the emperor 's address, where he said that his fitness level was declining.
Image copyright EPA
Image caption According to a nationwide Kyodo survey, nearly 90% of respondents said the emperor was given too much work.
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Another 85% said that abdication should be made legal as an option for the emperor and future successors.
Image copyright EPA
Image caption If it goes ahead, Emperor Akihito will become the first Japanese emperor in about 200 years to give up the throne.

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