Emperor Akihito of Japan has officially commemorated the anniversary of his father, Emperor Showa’s death which occurred thirty years ago this week. A specially planned ceremony was held in the former Emperor’s honour at his tomb in Tokyo.
The current Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on the 30th April this year, and it is believed that this ceremony is something he wished to do before his abdication took place. Similar ceremonies were held to mark the third, fifth, tenth and twentieth anniversaries of the old Emperor’s death.
Around eighty guests attended the ceremony including the Emperor’s wife, Empress Michiko and the couple’s younger son, Fumihito, Prince Akishino and his wife, Kiko, Princess Akishino. At the event, the Emperor read out a passage to publicly mourn his father and bowed in front of the mausoleum.
To coincide with this ceremony, another took place at the Imperial Palace on the Emperor’s behalf. This second ceremony was held by Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife, Crown Princess Masako and two of their nieces also attended making the event a full family celebration.
On the 30 April, when Emperor Akihito abdicates, he will become the first Japanese Emperor to do so in over two centuries. He ascended the throne when his father died in 1989 at the age of fifty-five and has now reigned for thirty years, but due to failing health and his advancing age he has opted to abdicate. Due to his unprecedented decision, it took passing a new law to allow for the abdication to take place.
The Japanese government plans to honour Emperor Akihito’s thirty-year reign in a ceremony of their own on the 24th of February before he steps down in April, to be succeeded by his son, Naruhito who is the next in line to lead the world’s oldest monarchy.