Japanese Emperor Akihito will abdicate the throne on Tuesday, ending his three decade-long reign in the ceremonial post. His abdication will be the country’s first in two centuries. Akihito reportedly endured prostate cancer treatment and heart surgery, and had expressed worry that his health and age would prevent him from fulfilling all of his duties. He and his wife, Empress Michiko, have reportedly worked toward “reconciliation, peace and democracy” in the years after World War II. While his father, Hirohito, was considered a living deity during WWII, Akihito was Japan’s first emperor without any political power. His son, 59-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, will be be crowned emperor in a separate ceremony on May 1, ending the Heisei imperial era and beginning the new Reiwa era.
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