The Japanese Emperor Akihito, before resigning at the end of April, gave his last New Year's greetings and told tens of thousands of flag-bearers to pray for peace.
The Imperial Palace said more than 72,000 The people gathered on Wednesday morning in the royal residence in the capital Tokyo. Many more still came for a last chance to see the 85-year-old king renew his traditional short speech each year.
[19459004Akihito will be the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in about two centuries, when he laid down his throne on April 30 and ended his three-decade ruling reign. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will climb the Chrysanthemum throne one day later, continuing the reign of the world's oldest imperial family.
"I am very pleased to be celebrating the New Year together with you in the open air," Akihito said to thousands of people, many shouting "Banzai" or "Long Live".
"I pray for the peace and happiness of the people of our country and the world," added the quiet Akihito, flanked by Empress Michiko and other family members.
The Emperor was scheduled to appear five times on Wednesday to address as many well-wishers as possible
Some people in the morning roared "Thank you" as the Emperor waved from the balcony while others sang the national anthem. A woman in the front row cried as she looked at the balcony.
|During the emergence of Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace of Tokyo [Issei Kato/Reuters]|
Japanese national flags wave. Akihito shocked the nation in 2016 when he signaled his desire to backstage, recalling his age and health problems.
The emperor's status is a sensitive one in Japan given his 20th-century war history, which was conducted on behalf of Akihito's father Hirohito, who died in 1989.
Akihito gladly accepted the more modern role as a symbol of the state imposed after the end of World War II. Earlier emperors, including Hirohito, had been treated as semi-divine.
In a rare emotional speech on the occasion of his 85th birthday last month, Akihito referred to the "countless lives" lost in the war.
"That gives me" I am deeply reassured that the Heisei era (his reign) is ending in Japan free of war, "he said.
Akihito has used his speeches and travels to express his strong pacifist views Aggressive Expansionism Japan pursued the rule of its father.
Akihito also worked to bring the royal household closer to the people and frequently visited the disadvantaged and families affected by natural disasters.
The origins of the Japanese monarchy are ancient and, according to legend, it is an unbroken line that is about 2600 years old.
It is deeply rooted in the indigenous Shinto religion and has numerous ritual duties.
|The emperor is composed with Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako [Issei Kato/Reuters]|
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