Emperor Akihito to abdicate, Japan embraces end of era

FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2018, file photo, Japan's Emperor Akihito, right, accompanied by Crown Prince Naruhito, walks away after greeting well-wishers when they appeared on the balcony of the Imperial Palace to mark the emperor's 85th birthday in Tokyo. Akihito is ending his three-decade reign Tuesday, April 30, 2019 as he abdicates to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, becoming the first to do so in 200 years, in a step nobody today has witnessed. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

TOKYO — Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate, as Japan embraces the end of his reign with an emotion mixed with reminiscence and hopes for a new era.

Akihito, 85, in a palace ritual Tuesday, will announce his retirement before other members of the royal family and top government officials. He was to perform private palace rituals to report his retirement to Shinto gods ahead of the official ceremony.

Akihito's reign runs through midnight when his son Crown Prince Naruhito becomes new emperor and his era begins.

Akihito has devoted his career to make amends for the victims of a war fought in his father's name, while bringing the aloof monarchy closer to the people.

Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne in a separate ceremony on Wednesday.

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