Emperor Akihito of Japan becomes the first in living memory, indeed in centuries, to abdicate from the throne, bringing the 30-year Heisei Era to a close. His son, Crown prince Naruhito, will formally ascend to the throne at midnight tonight, marking the beginning of the new Reiwa Era.
Akihito is widely loved and respected, both at home and abroad. His reign stood in contrast to that of his father, Hirohito, who is posthumously known as Emperor Showa and whose reign straddled World War II and saw an end to the emperor being formally revered as a living god.
Naruhito is expected to seek to be “close to the people”, following in his father’s footsteps and travelling across the country, particularly in the wake of the natural disasters which are such a common occurrence in Japan, and the “abide by the Constitution”, possibly a more tricky proposition considering efforts in recent years by the current ruling party to amend certain elements of the constitution.