Emperor Akihito of Japan has delivered his final New Year’s address from the Chrysanthemum Throne in Tokyo today. The Emperor is due to abdicate in favour of his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito on 30 May. Naruhito will ascend the throne the following day on 1 May.
His Imperial Majesty said today, “I hope this year will be a good year for as many people as possible.
“At the beginning of the year, I pray for the peace and happiness of the people of our country and the world.”
He also expressed his joy at being able to celebrate with the people in good weather.
The Emperor appeared before the public alongside Empress Michiko and the Imperial Family on the balcony of the Imperial Palace, as is the tradition. Two huge screens had been set up by the Imperial Household Agency for the expected record number of people to be able to get a good view.
The Imperial Family appeared on the balcony several times, following tradition.
Five greeting sessions are scheduled today at the Palace; three took place this morning with two expected this afternoon.
Yesterday, the Emperor and Empress received New Year’s greetings from members of the Imperial Family, members of the government, and foreign government representatives in what is considered a state event.
The Imperial Household will release the number of visitors to the Imperial Palace today in the coming days. Last year, 126,720 people paid a visit, and this year, the numbers are expected to be record making. Around 30,000 were waiting at this gates when they were opened this morning – a number much larger than the amount waiting at the gates at the same time last year. As of 11:30 am local time, 58,000 people had visited the Imperial Palace, according to the Imperial Household Agency.
Emperor Akihito has been on the throne since 7 January 1989. In 2016, the Emperor announced his desire to abdicate, and a special law was enacted by the Japanese Diet to allow for it.