The abdication of Emperor Akihito in Japan

30 years of reign

This April 30, Japan will go down in history. Emperor Akihito has ceded his throne to his first-born Naruhito during his lifetime. This is the first abdication in more than 200 years of the Chrysanthemum’s Throne.

He did a ceremony held in the Imperial Palace preceded by several millennial rites. In this televised act, Emperor Akihito gave his last speech to present his resignation.

The ceremony was simple and brief but full of symbolism. The emperor entered dressed in tuxedos with solemn silence. A few steps behind came his wife Michiko, from whom he has been inseparable during 60 years of marriage.

In the presence of the emperors and in front of an audience made up of the main leaders of the state powers, the imperial chamberlains deposited with the emperor the symbols of the throne: the jewel Yasakani-no-Magatama and the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. According to tradition, both were delivered by the Sun goddess Amaterasu to her descendants, the Japanese imperial family. Moreover, they are very sacred so that no one, not even the emperors, can see them. The chamberlains carried them in boxes, lined with a cloth with ochre and white drawings, closed with a purple ribbon.

In addition, they also placed the imperial seals: that of the State and that of the palace. Both were also stored in boxes, wrapped in purple cloth.

Naruhito assumes the throne

The succession procedure will continue tomorrow, Wednesday 1st May. Naruhito will assume the throne, in a ceremony that, like his father’s farewell, will take place in the Hall of the Pine. It will be very similar to the day of the abdication, but there will be some differences: in the first part, tradition forbids women from the imperial family. Therefore, only adult male representatives may attend. On the other hand, as part of the government representation, Minister Satsuki Katayama, the only woman in the Japanese Executive.

In this ceremony, Naruhito will receive the imperial treasures, as a sign that the succession is legitimate. Later, in the presence of his wife, Masako, he will give a speech in which he will let know what his priorities will be in this new era.