Akihito read a document to the imperial ancestors containing his decision to leave the Chrysanthemum Throne. There will be a total of nine ceremonies that will culminate in "taiirei seiden no gi", when the sovereign will become "emeritus emperor". The last monarch to abdicate was Kokaku in 1817.
Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning the emperor Akihito took part in the first ceremony concerning his abdication, informing the imperial ancestors including Amaterasu-omikami - the legendary goddess of the sun - of his intention to abdicate on April 30th.
The "hokoku no gi" started around 10 am inside the Imperial Palace. Akihito was dressed in "sokutai" (photo), a formal garment that can traditionally be worn only by an emperor.
Akihito read a document to the imperial ancestors containing his decision to leave the Chrysanthemum Throne. The same note was read in two other sanctuaries in the Imperial Palace, dedicated to the emperors of the past and others of the Shintoists.
A total of nine ceremonies will be held, culminating in the "taiirei seiden no gi", in which the abdication will be formally proclaimed.
Crown prince Naruhito, dressed in the sokutai designated for his position, also took part in today's ceremony. He was joined by eight members of the imperial family, but the empress Michiko was absent for health reasons.
Today another event is scheduled in the Imperial Palace: Akihito will send personal delegates to the shrine of Ise Jingu and to the mausoleums of the first emperor, Jimmu, and of the emperors Komei, Meiji, Taisho and Showa, with communications concerning his abdication.
On the throne since 1989, Akihito expressed his desire to abdicate in a video message in August 2016, claiming to fear that he will no longer be able to carry out his duties. He turned 85 on December 23, and underwent heart surgery as well as treatment for prostate cancer.
The last emperor to abdicate was Kokaku in 1817. In Japan, this is not an exceptional event, but a return to the past: more than half of the 125 Japanese emperors abdicated while still alive.