Japan’s outgoing Emperor Akihito in 10 dates

This file photo taken on April 25, 2018 shows Japan's Emperor Akihito smiling during the spring garden party hosted by the emperor in Tokyo. — AFP pic
This file photo taken on April 25, 2018 shows Japan's Emperor Akihito smiling during the spring garden party hosted by the emperor in Tokyo. — AFP pic

PARIS, April 8 — Here are 10 key dates in the life of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, who abdicates on April 30 at the age of 85.

- December 23, 1933: He is born in the Tokyo Imperial Palace, the first son to Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako.

- 1945: When he is 11 years old, his father announces Japan’s surrender in World War II after the United States drops nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

- 1959: He marries Michiko Shoda, daughter of a wealthy flour magnate, becoming the first imperial heir to wed a commoner. 

- 1960: The first of their three children is born, a son, Naruhito, who will become the next emperor.

- 1989: At the death of his father, Akihito immediately becomes emperor although the official enthronement ceremony only takes place in November 1990.

- 1992: In a groundbreaking visit to Beijing, he says he “deeply deplores” Japan’s infliction of “great sufferings on the people of China” during its wartime aggression of the 1930s through the early 1940s.

- 2011: He makes a rare television address to the nation following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that claims around 18,500 lives, saying he is praying for the “safety of as many people as possible.” 

- 2012: Aged 78, he undergoes heart bypass surgery, briefly handing official duties to Crown Prince Naruhito.

- 2015: At a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, Akihito expresses “deep remorse” for his country’s actions during the war.

- 2016: In a national address in August, he hints at abdication because of his advancing age and weakening health. More than a year later, the government announces that he will step down on April 30, 2019. — AFP

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