Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate at the end of Tuesday, bringing an end to the three-decade-long Heisei Era. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend the throne immediately after.
Emperor Akihito's abdication ceremony will be held at the Imperial Palace in the early evening. The Prime Minister will convey gratitude to him on behalf of the public. The Emperor will then give his last words to the people in his current role. It will be the first time in over 200 years that a living Emperor will abdicate.
In a rare address three years ago, Emperor Akihito expressed concern that his advanced age could make it difficult for him to continue carrying out his duties. It was seen as his wish to step down.
But there was no legal framework for him to do so, and the Constitution prohibits the Emperor from having any political influence.
Still, many Japanese people expressed sympathy for him, so the Diet enacted a law to specifically allow him to abdicate.
Emperor Akihito has been on the throne since age 55, following the death of his father. He was the first to be enthroned under the post-war Constitution that defines the role as a "symbol of the state."
He has traveled all across Japan to visit disaster-hit areas, facilities for people with disabilities, and memorials for the war-dead.