The 85-year-old emperor is the first to resign in almost two centuries after he ascended the throne on 7 January 1989, following the death of his father Emperor Hirohito.
Over the three decades of Akihito’s reign in the era named “Heisei” (“achieving peace”), Japan was struck by numerous catastrophic natural disasters and alongside his wife, Empress Michiko, the imperial couple have been a support to the people affected, with displays of compassion that included visits to evacuation centres to speak to survivors.
The new era “Reiwa” (“beautiful harmony”) will start with the enthronement of Crown Prince Naruhito.
We take a look back at Akihito’s rise to the throne, from baby through to ceremonial traditions and how he began a family of his own.
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