Akihito has become the country’s first monarch to give up the chrysanthemum throne in two centuries

Japan’s emperor Akihito has called his 30-year reign a blessing and thanked the people of Japan for their support as he became the country’s first monarch to abdicate in two centuries.

Speaking at a brief ceremony in the state room of the imperial palace a day before his eldest son, Naruhito, takes his place as the new occupant of the chrysanthemum throne, the 85-year-old Akihito said he had spent the 30 years of his reign performing his duties with “deep respect and love for the people”.

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