- Imperial Palace
- 皇居（後出 Imperial Family は皇族）
- Emperor Akihito
- 天皇明仁さま（後出 His Majesty は陛下、 Empress Michiko は皇后美智子さま、Emperor Hirohito は昭和天皇裕仁さま、 Crown Prince Naruhito は皇太子徳仁親王殿下、 Princess Masako は皇太子妃雅子殿下）
- 退位する（後出 step down も同意、abdication は退位）
- ascend to ... Throne
- 即位する（ Chrysanthemum Throne は皇位）
- Western counterparts
- strive (→strove) to ～
- have a good command of ～
- vow to ～
A record 154,800 well-wishers gathered at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo on Jan. 2 to see Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in their last attendance for the delivery of the traditional New Year's address by the Emperor.
"I am truly happy to celebrate the new year with all of you under such cloudless skies," said the 85-year-old Emperor. "At the beginning of the year, I pray for the peace and happiness of the people of our country and the world."
While making the speech, His Majesty waved to the crowd from a balcony at the palace together with the Empress and other members of the Imperial Family. He appeared seven times on the day, two more than originally planned, to accommodate the large crowd.
The Emperor succeeded his father, Emperor Hirohito, in 1989, and will abdicate on April 30. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1. The name for the new era will be announced on April 1.
Japan's Imperial Family is far more cloistered than its Western counterparts, and Emperor Hirohito was once viewed as a god. Emperor Akihito strove to become a more accessible monarch. He was the first in modern history to marry a commoner, Shoda Michiko. Both of his sons also married commoners.
His abdication is also a rarity. He hinted at his desire to step down in a video message, citing a worry about how well he could perform his duties as his physical strength declined.
Crown Prince Naruhito appeared on the balcony with his wife, Princess Masako. She had missed some events over the years due to what palace officials have described as a stress-related illness.
The Crown Prince, 58, who attended Oxford University and has a good command of English, has vowed to "protect Masako."
The public is watching to see how the couple brings more openness to a role that holds no political power, but is recognized as a cultural and emotional symbol of Japan.
(Compiled from AP and Mainichi reports)
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