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Emperor Akihito to abdicate April 30, ending 3-decade Heisei era

TOKYO -- Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, making it the last day of the three-decade Heisei era.

The Emperor has no plans for outings on April 29 and is spending time with Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

"His Majesty is spending his time as calmly as usual. We would like to support him so that he can mark the abdication day with peace of mind," said an aide to the Emperor.

On the morning of April 30, Emperor Akihito will pay his respects at the Three Palace Sanctuaries at the Imperial Palace, which enshrine successive emperors from the past. From 5 p.m., the Emperor will attend a ceremony called "Taiirei-Seiden-no-Gi" at the palace alongside the Empress. At the ceremony, which is part of acts in matters of state, the Emperor will deliver a speech to the nation, his last as the reigning monarch. After the ceremony, the Emperor will be greeted by employees of the Imperial Household Agency, the Imperial Guard, and his aides into the evening.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will become the Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita as of May 1 in accordance with a special law allowing the abdication. He will not attend any events related to the enthronement of the new emperor to be held the same day. After many years living in the Imperial Palace, Their Majesties will move to the Takanawa Imperial Residence in the capital's Minato Ward after all arrangements are made. They will eventually move to the Togu Palace on the Akasaka Estate, also in the capital.

While attending ceremonies related to his abdication in late April, Emperor Akihito has carried out his public duties as usual on almost a daily basis. On top of taking part in various ceremonies, he invited people including the retired prosecutor-general and Supreme Court justices to the Imperial Residence at the Imperial Palace to express his appreciation for their services.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Emperor has been maintaining his physical condition thoroughly by continuing strolls, his daily routine, among other efforts.

"His Majesty is fulfilling his duties with all his might until the last day of his reign," said a senior official at the Imperial Household Agency.

(Japanese original by Nao Yamada, City News Department)

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