For the first time in two centuries, an emperor abdicates the throne of Chrysanthemum in life. Akihito closes the “Heisei” era, peace in Japanese, and gives the baton to his son Naruhito who will begin the “Reiwa” era, translated as beautiful harmony.
The last time there was an imperial abdication in Japan was on May 7, 1817, when Kokaku did it. The emperors of that time were not usually more than 40 years old at the head of the Chrysanthemum’s Throne, as they died young or were forced to abdicate.
Akihito, 85, announced on August 8, 2016 that his old age and broken health made it difficult for him to perform his duties, but he did not officially announce his desire to abdicate, because the law at the time did not allow it. A special law had to be passed, and the government announced on 1 December 2017 that succession would take place between 30 April and 1 May 2019.
Prince Naruhito, 59 years old and with gentle manners, has received extensive training abroad.
The new emperor does not come to the throne alone. He will be accompanied by his wife Masako, who will be the new empress from this May 1st. When he married the prince, he had to give up a brilliant diplomatic career. Since then, Masako has been suffering from depression. While doctors call it a problem of adaptation, the people call her ‘The sad princess’.