Asia

Emperor Akihito leaves the Japanese throne - in pictures

Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In his final speech, Akihito said he 'wished Japan and the world peace and happiness'

Japan is marking a historic moment as Emperor Akihito becomes the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries.

The ceremonies started on Tuesday morning and culminated in Emperor Akihito's final public address, at the Imperial Palace.

Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne on Wednesday.

Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Emperor Akihito started the day with private ceremonies inside the Imperial Palace
Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The rituals were conducted by the emperor and Shinto priests - the main religion of Japan - wearing traditional robes.
Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace Image copyright AFP
Image caption The king had to report his abdication plans to his mythological ancestors, including the sun goddess.
Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In his final public address, broadcast live on TV, he said: "I am deeply grateful for the people that accepted me as a symbol and supported me."
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Crowds taking pictures outside the Imperial Palace Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many people gathered outside the palace buildings in Tokyo to try to catch a glimpse of events.
People outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Akihito has redefined the role during his three-decades on the throne, making close contact with the people which has made him a highly popular figure.
Crowds taking pictures outside the Imperial Palace Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The vast majority of Japanese people sympathise with the emperor's desire to retire.
TV showing Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace Image copyright AFP
Image caption The abdication is seen as a festive affair, with Japan enjoying an unprecedented 10-day public holiday.

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