Tokyo (CNN)Japan’s 85-year-old monarch was born the son of a deity, but he’s retiring as the people’s Emperor.

On Tuesday, Emperor Akihito will abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne — the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world — becoming the first Japanese monarch in modern history to do so. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will be inaugurated as the 126th emperor the next day, ushering in the Reiwa era.The much-loved Emperor Akihito will be remembered for connecting with his public in a way that no other Japanese monarch has done and expressing “deep remorse” for the country’s actions during World War II.After having heart surgery and overcoming prostate cancer in recent years, the monarch cited health reasons for stepping down.”I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole being, as I have done until now,” the soft-spoken Emperor said in 2016, in his second TV speech in three decades.Read MoreIt was seen as a plea to Japan’s lawmakers to change the law to allow him to retire. The following year, they did. “It won attention and respect from the people, who recognized the emperor actually had a will of his own,” said Hitomi Tonomura, a historian at University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies. It was a fitting final move for a monarch who had often broken with tradition. He was also the first Japanese Emperor to marry a commoner, speak to his subjects live on television and to be hands-on in raising his children. A child of a deityAkihito greets the public on his 81st birthday in December 2014. He ascended to the throne in 1990.Akihito greets the public on his 81st birthday in December 2014. He ascended to the throne in 1990. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito greets the public on his 81st birthday in December 2014. He ascended to the throne in 1990.Hide Caption 1 of 48In December 1933, Tsugunomiya Akihito was born to Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. He was their fifth child and first son. According to Japanese legend, he is a direct descendant of Japan's first emperor Jimmu, circa 660 BC. Akihito means "shining pinnacle of virtue," and Tsugunomiya means "prince of the august succession and enlightened benevolence."In December 1933, Tsugunomiya Akihito was born to Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. He was their fifth child and first son. According to Japanese legend, he is a direct descendant of Japan's first emperor Jimmu, circa 660 BC. Akihito means "shining pinnacle of virtue," and Tsugunomiya means "prince of the august succession and enlightened benevolence." Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesIn December 1933, Tsugunomiya Akihito was born to Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako. He was their fifth child and first son. According to Japanese legend, he is a direct descendant of Japan’s first emperor Jimmu, circa 660 BC. Akihito means “shining pinnacle of virtue,” and Tsugunomiya means “prince of the august succession and enlightened benevolence.”Hide Caption 2 of 48Akihito, 14, uses a magnifying glass at the Peers School in Tokyo. At about the age of 5, Akihito was separated from his parents, in accordance with Japanese custom at the time, and raised and educated by chamberlains and tutors.Akihito, 14, uses a magnifying glass at the Peers School in Tokyo. At about the age of 5, Akihito was separated from his parents, in accordance with Japanese custom at the time, and raised and educated by chamberlains and tutors. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito, 14, uses a magnifying glass at the Peers School in Tokyo. At about the age of 5, Akihito was separated from his parents, in accordance with Japanese custom at the time, and raised and educated by chamberlains and tutors.Hide Caption 3 of 48Akihito uses a scooter to whiz across the Imperial Palace grounds in 1948.Akihito uses a scooter to whiz across the Imperial Palace grounds in 1948. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito uses a scooter to whiz across the Imperial Palace grounds in 1948.Hide Caption 4 of 48Akihito peers over the shoulder of his father, Emperor Hirohito.Akihito peers over the shoulder of his father, Emperor Hirohito. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito peers over the shoulder of his father, Emperor Hirohito.Hide Caption 5 of 48During a seven-month world trip in 1953, Akihito sits on the promenade deck of a cruise ship headed from Hawaii to San Francisco.During a seven-month world trip in 1953, Akihito sits on the promenade deck of a cruise ship headed from Hawaii to San Francisco. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesDuring a seven-month world trip in 1953, Akihito sits on the promenade deck of a cruise ship headed from Hawaii to San Francisco.Hide Caption 6 of 48Akihito wears traditional garb at a ceremony where he was proclaimed heir apparent to the throne. His outfit here was reported to be over 1,000 years old.Akihito wears traditional garb at a ceremony where he was proclaimed heir apparent to the throne. His outfit here was reported to be over 1,000 years old. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito wears traditional garb at a ceremony where he was proclaimed heir apparent to the throne. His outfit here was reported to be over 1,000 years old.Hide Caption 7 of 48Akihito clears a hurdle during an equestrian event in Tokyo in 1952. It was staged as a send-off for Japanese Olympic riders.Akihito clears a hurdle during an equestrian event in Tokyo in 1952. It was staged as a send-off for Japanese Olympic riders. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito clears a hurdle during an equestrian event in Tokyo in 1952. It was staged as a send-off for Japanese Olympic riders.Hide Caption 8 of 48Akihito during a shooting trip circa 1955.Akihito during a shooting trip circa 1955. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito during a shooting trip circa 1955.Hide Caption 9 of 48After graduating from Gakushuin University, Akihito attends a farewell party with other graduates in April 1956.After graduating from Gakushuin University, Akihito attends a farewell party with other graduates in April 1956. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAfter graduating from Gakushuin University, Akihito attends a farewell party with other graduates in April 1956.Hide Caption 10 of 48Akihito joins Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie for a hunt outside Tokyo in November 1956.Akihito joins Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie for a hunt outside Tokyo in November 1956. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito joins Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie for a hunt outside Tokyo in November 1956.Hide Caption 11 of 48Akihito met his future wife, Michiko Shoda, at a tennis tournament. He was the first Japanese Emperor to marry someone outside of the aristocracy.Akihito met his future wife, Michiko Shoda, at a tennis tournament. He was the first Japanese Emperor to marry someone outside of the aristocracy. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito met his future wife, Michiko Shoda, at a tennis tournament. He was the first Japanese Emperor to marry someone outside of the aristocracy.Hide Caption 12 of 48Akihito and Michiko pose in traditional Japanese wedding costumes before their marriage in April 1959.Akihito and Michiko pose in traditional Japanese wedding costumes before their marriage in April 1959. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko pose in traditional Japanese wedding costumes before their marriage in April 1959.Hide Caption 13 of 48Akihito and his wife after their wedding ceremony.Akihito and his wife after their wedding ceremony. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and his wife after their wedding ceremony.Hide Caption 14 of 48Members of the Japanese imperial family are photographed in 1961. Akihito is second from left, looking at his wife and their first son, Naruhito. They are joined by Akihito's parents, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako, and his brother Masahito.Members of the Japanese imperial family are photographed in 1961. Akihito is second from left, looking at his wife and their first son, Naruhito. They are joined by Akihito's parents, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako, and his brother Masahito. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesMembers of the Japanese imperial family are photographed in 1961. Akihito is second from left, looking at his wife and their first son, Naruhito. They are joined by Akihito’s parents, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako, and his brother Masahito.Hide Caption 15 of 48Akihito arm-wrestlers Naruhito while Michiko looks on. The couple had another son, Fumihito, in 1965. Their only daughter, Sayako, was born in 1969.Akihito arm-wrestlers Naruhito while Michiko looks on. The couple had another son, Fumihito, in 1965. Their only daughter, Sayako, was born in 1969. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito arm-wrestlers Naruhito while Michiko looks on. The couple had another son, Fumihito, in 1965. Their only daughter, Sayako, was born in 1969.Hide Caption 16 of 48Akihito in 1971.Akihito in 1971. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito in 1971.Hide Caption 17 of 48Akihito and Michiko are received at the White House by US President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in 1987.Akihito and Michiko are received at the White House by US President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in 1987. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko are received at the White House by US President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in 1987.Hide Caption 18 of 48Akihito drives to an imperial villa in 1989. Michiko is in the front passenger seat. Behind Akihito is his son Fumihito.Akihito drives to an imperial villa in 1989. Michiko is in the front passenger seat. Behind Akihito is his son Fumihito. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito drives to an imperial villa in 1989. Michiko is in the front passenger seat. Behind Akihito is his son Fumihito.Hide Caption 19 of 48Akihito walks during his enthronement ceremony in 1990. A year and 10 months after the death of his father, Akihito became the 125th Emperor of Japan.Akihito walks during his enthronement ceremony in 1990. A year and 10 months after the death of his father, Akihito became the 125th Emperor of Japan. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito walks during his enthronement ceremony in 1990. A year and 10 months after the death of his father, Akihito became the 125th Emperor of Japan.Hide Caption 20 of 48Akihito and Michiko visit the Great Wall of China in 1992. It was the first visit to China by a Japanese monarch. During his stay, Akihito said he deplored the Japanese treatment of the Chinese before and during World War II.Akihito and Michiko visit the Great Wall of China in 1992. It was the first visit to China by a Japanese monarch. During his stay, Akihito said he deplored the Japanese treatment of the Chinese before and during World War II. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko visit the Great Wall of China in 1992. It was the first visit to China by a Japanese monarch. During his stay, Akihito said he deplored the Japanese treatment of the Chinese before and during World War II.Hide Caption 21 of 48Akihito and Michiko pose with police officers who had escorted them at Brazil's Curitiba Airport in 1997.Akihito and Michiko pose with police officers who had escorted them at Brazil's Curitiba Airport in 1997. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko pose with police officers who had escorted them at Brazil’s Curitiba Airport in 1997.Hide Caption 22 of 48Akihito and Mexican President Vicente Fox wave to people while Fox visited Tokyo in 2003.Akihito and Mexican President Vicente Fox wave to people while Fox visited Tokyo in 2003. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Mexican President Vicente Fox wave to people while Fox visited Tokyo in 2003.Hide Caption 23 of 48Akihito and Michiko walk on a beach in Shimoda, Japan, in 2004. Joining them were their son Fumihito and Fumihito's family: wife Kiko and daughters Mako and Kako.Akihito and Michiko walk on a beach in Shimoda, Japan, in 2004. Joining them were their son Fumihito and Fumihito's family: wife Kiko and daughters Mako and Kako. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko walk on a beach in Shimoda, Japan, in 2004. Joining them were their son Fumihito and Fumihito’s family: wife Kiko and daughters Mako and Kako.Hide Caption 24 of 48Akihito talks with Malaysian King Syed Sirajuddin while Michiko meets with Queen Tuanku Fauziah in 2005.Akihito talks with Malaysian King Syed Sirajuddin while Michiko meets with Queen Tuanku Fauziah in 2005. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito talks with Malaysian King Syed Sirajuddin while Michiko meets with Queen Tuanku Fauziah in 2005.Hide Caption 25 of 48During a visit to Honolulu in 2009, Akihito lays a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Akihito has repeatedly expressed remorse for his country's actions before and during World War II.During a visit to Honolulu in 2009, Akihito lays a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Akihito has repeatedly expressed remorse for his country's actions before and during World War II. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesDuring a visit to Honolulu in 2009, Akihito lays a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Akihito has repeatedly expressed remorse for his country’s actions before and during World War II.Hide Caption 26 of 48Akihito and Michiko play tennis together in 2010.Akihito and Michiko play tennis together in 2010. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko play tennis together in 2010.Hide Caption 27 of 48Akihito and Michiko bow in front of collapsed buildings and houses after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan in 2011. After the disaster, Akihito made an unprecedented televised address -- the first time any Japanese emperor had spoken to the public on TV. "I truly hope the victims of the disaster never give up hope, take care of themselves and live strong for tomorrow," he said.Akihito and Michiko bow in front of collapsed buildings and houses after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan in 2011. After the disaster, Akihito made an unprecedented televised address -- the first time any Japanese emperor had spoken to the public on TV. "I truly hope the victims of the disaster never give up hope, take care of themselves and live strong for tomorrow," he said. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko bow in front of collapsed buildings and houses after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan in 2011. After the disaster, Akihito made an unprecedented televised address — the first time any Japanese emperor had spoken to the public on TV. “I truly hope the victims of the disaster never give up hope, take care of themselves and live strong for tomorrow,” he said.Hide Caption 28 of 48Akihito and Michiko visit an evacuation shelter after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.Akihito and Michiko visit an evacuation shelter after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko visit an evacuation shelter after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.Hide Caption 29 of 48Akihito talks to evacuees at a shelter in Minamisanriku.Akihito talks to evacuees at a shelter in Minamisanriku. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito talks to evacuees at a shelter in Minamisanriku.Hide Caption 30 of 48Akihito and Michiko attend a New Year's ceremony in Tokyo in 2011.Akihito and Michiko attend a New Year's ceremony in Tokyo in 2011. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko attend a New Year’s ceremony in Tokyo in 2011.Hide Caption 31 of 48Akihito hosts US President Barack Obama in April 2014. Akihito hosts US President Barack Obama in April 2014. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito hosts US President Barack Obama in April 2014. Hide Caption 32 of 48Akihito and Michiko tour shops in Minamisanriku, Japan, in July 2014. They offered encouragement to store owners who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.Akihito and Michiko tour shops in Minamisanriku, Japan, in July 2014. They offered encouragement to store owners who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko tour shops in Minamisanriku, Japan, in July 2014. They offered encouragement to store owners who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.Hide Caption 33 of 48Akihito leaves after speaking at the opening ceremony of the Diet, Japan's parliament, in January 2017.Akihito leaves after speaking at the opening ceremony of the Diet, Japan's parliament, in January 2017. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito leaves after speaking at the opening ceremony of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, in January 2017.Hide Caption 34 of 48Akihito and Michiko sit together during a flight to Vietnam in February 2017.Akihito and Michiko sit together during a flight to Vietnam in February 2017. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko sit together during a flight to Vietnam in February 2017.Hide Caption 35 of 48Akihito and Michiko attend the Japan Art Academy Award Ceremony in June 2017.Akihito and Michiko attend the Japan Art Academy Award Ceremony in June 2017. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko attend the Japan Art Academy Award Ceremony in June 2017.Hide Caption 36 of 48Akihito and Michiko greet US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump as they arrive at the Imperial Palace in November 2017.Akihito and Michiko greet US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump as they arrive at the Imperial Palace in November 2017. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko greet US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump as they arrive at the Imperial Palace in November 2017.Hide Caption 37 of 48Akihito and Michiko wave to well-wishers from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in January 2018. Just a month earlier, it was announced that he would be abdicating in April 2019. Akihito and Michiko wave to well-wishers from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in January 2018. Just a month earlier, it was announced that he would be abdicating in April 2019. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko wave to well-wishers from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in January 2018. Just a month earlier, it was announced that he would be abdicating in April 2019. Hide Caption 38 of 48Akihito and Michiko attend a memorial service for war veterans in August 2018.Akihito and Michiko attend a memorial service for war veterans in August 2018. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko attend a memorial service for war veterans in August 2018.Hide Caption 39 of 48Akihito and Michiko listen to Indonesian percussion music as they attend an event in Hamamatsu, Japan, in November 2018.Akihito and Michiko listen to Indonesian percussion music as they attend an event in Hamamatsu, Japan, in November 2018. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko listen to Indonesian percussion music as they attend an event in Hamamatsu, Japan, in November 2018.Hide Caption 40 of 48Akihito's final New Year's greetings draws a huge crowd at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in January 2019.Akihito's final New Year's greetings draws a huge crowd at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in January 2019. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito’s final New Year’s greetings draws a huge crowd at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in January 2019.Hide Caption 41 of 48Akihito and Michiko stroll outside the imperial villa in Hayama, Japan, in January 2019.Akihito and Michiko stroll outside the imperial villa in Hayama, Japan, in January 2019. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko stroll outside the imperial villa in Hayama, Japan, in January 2019.Hide Caption 42 of 48Akihito and Michiko meet well-wishers near the Hayama Imperial Villa.Akihito and Michiko meet well-wishers near the Hayama Imperial Villa. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko meet well-wishers near the Hayama Imperial Villa.Hide Caption 43 of 48Akihito arrives for a speech at the Diet in January 2019.Akihito arrives for a speech at the Diet in January 2019. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito arrives for a speech at the Diet in January 2019.Hide Caption 44 of 48Akihito addresses the Diet.Akihito addresses the Diet. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito addresses the Diet.Hide Caption 45 of 48Akihito and Michiko take a brief stroll outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in April 2019.Akihito and Michiko take a brief stroll outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in April 2019. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko take a brief stroll outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in April 2019.Hide Caption 46 of 48Akihito and Michiko wave to well-wishers in Shima, Japan, in April 2019.Akihito and Michiko wave to well-wishers in Shima, Japan, in April 2019. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko wave to well-wishers in Shima, Japan, in April 2019.Hide Caption 47 of 48Akihito and Michiko wave after visiting the Jingu shrine in Ise, Japan, in April 2019.Akihito and Michiko wave after visiting the Jingu shrine in Ise, Japan, in April 2019. Photos: Japan's Akihito: His life in picturesAkihito and Michiko wave after visiting the Jingu shrine in Ise, Japan, in April 2019.Hide Caption 48 of 4801 Emperor Akihito02 Emperor Akihito RESRTICTED03 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED04 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED05 Emperor Akihito08 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED06 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED07 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED09 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED10 Emperor Akihito 11 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED12 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED14 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED13 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED15 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED16 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED17 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED18 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTEDakihito 042019 07akihito enthronement RESTRICTED19 Emperor Akihito20 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTEDakihito 042019 19akihito 042019 20akihito 042019 1721 Emperor Akihitoakihito 042019 14akihito 042019 11akihito 042019 15akihito 042019 11akihito 042019 1622 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTEDakihito 042019 1223 Emperor Akihito24 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED25 Emperor Akihito RESTRICTED01 Donald Trump Emperor Akihito JapanEmperor Akihito Empress Michiko 010226 Emperor Akihito 0815akihito 042019 06akihito 042019 09akihito 042019 18akihito 042019 05akihito 042019 04akihito 042019 03akihito 042019 04akihito 042019 akihito 042019 02When the Emperor was born in 1933, Japan was a very different place. War was brewing and his father, Emperor Hirohito, was revered as a human deity. In 1937, Japanese troops invaded Nanjing — then the capital of the Republic of China — killing around 300,000 Chinese in a weeks-long spree following the Japanese occupation, according to Chinese estimates. Japan has disputed the scale of the massacre.Centuries ago, women ruled Japan. What changed?Centuries ago, women ruled Japan. What changed?Centuries ago, women ruled Japan. What changed?In 1940, Japan officially entered World War II on the side of Germany and Italy. The war years remain a controversial period in the nation’s history. As many as 200,000 women, mainly Korean, were forced into sex slavery by Japanese soldiers during WWII, according to a United Nations report. Japan has apologized and says the issue is resolved, but South Korea has demanded a more formal apology and reparations. When Emperor Hirohito made a radio address surrendering in 1945, most Japanese people had never heard his voice before, despite him having been in power already for nearly 20 years. After the war, Japan was occupied by the United States. The new constitution banned the Imperial family from engaging in politics and Emperor Hirohito renounced his divine status. The emperors were no longer gods — they were humans.Healing the woundsIn 1989, Emperor Akihito, was handed a country still dealing with the wounds of war. His reign has been called the Heisei era, which means “achieving peace” — and it has proved to be a fitting name.In May 1990, just over a year after he came to the throne, Emperor Akihito hosted then-South Korean President Roh Tae-woo at a state banquet where he made waves by admitting responsibility for Japan’s wartime aggressions. “I think of the sufferings your people underwent during this unfortunate period, which was brought about by my country, and cannot but feel the deepest regret,” he said.In 1992, the Emperor became the first Japanese monarch to visit China, where he said he felt a “deep sadness” for the “unfortunate period in which my country inflicted great suffering on the people of China.”He has also made several trips to Okinawa, where about 110,000 Japanese troops and 100,000 civilians lost their lives in the name of Emperor Hirohito. Anti-imperialist and anti-US sentiment ran deep on the small southern islands. During a 1975 trip, young radicals threw a fire bomb at the then-crown prince. Can the world's royals modernize and maintain their thrones?Can the world's royals modernize and maintain their thrones?Can the world's royals modernize and maintain their thrones?The Emperor’s conciliatory sentiments about Japan’s wartime past contrast with that of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has suggested that future generations should not have to keep apologizing for Japan’s past. Abe has also ignited criticism from China and South Korea in the past by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a controversial memorial site that includes names of convicted Japanese war criminals. Abe hasn’t visited the shrine since 2013, although earlier this year he sent it a ritual offering.”The Emperor has contributed more than all of Japan’s prime ministers combined in advancing reconciliation,” said Jeremy Yellen, a historian of modern Japan at Chinese University of Hong Kong. “These efforts to restore dignity to Japan’s victims has also helped the nation regain a dignity that remains imperiled by revisionists.”People’s emperorThroughout his three-decade rule, Emperor Akihito has embraced a more “normal” life.For a start, he became the first Emperor to marry a commoner. The Emperor met Empress Michiko in 1957 during tennis match in the scenic mountain town of Karuizawa. After they married, the couple often returned to the place where they met.A 'love match' that broke with 2,000 years of royal traditionA 'love match' that broke with 2,000 years of royal traditionA 'love match' that broke with 2,000 years of royal traditionWhen Emperor Akihito was a child, he was separated from his parents and raised and educated by chamberlains and tutors. But when the new royal couple had their three children, Naruhito, Fumihito and Sayako Kuroda, they declined hired help, instead raising the children themselves — even reportedly making them pack their own school lunches. Akihito, then-Crown Prince, and his fiancée Michiko Shoda photographed at the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club on December 6, 1958. The couple had met the previous year while playing a doubles match on a tennis court in Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture, an event that became known as "love match." Akihito, then-Crown Prince, and his fiancée Michiko Shoda photographed at the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club on December 6, 1958. The couple had met the previous year while playing a doubles match on a tennis court in Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture, an event that became known as "love match." Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanAkihito, then-Crown Prince, and his fiancée Michiko Shoda photographed at the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club on December 6, 1958. The couple had met the previous year while playing a doubles match on a tennis court in Karuizawa, Nagano prefecture, an event that became known as “love match.” Hide Caption 1 of 17Akihito watches his then-fiancée, Michiko Shoda, flip through a photo album at his Tokyo mansion on December 26, 1958. Shoda was nicknamed "Mitchi" and her hairstyles and fashion were closely watched. "Japanese women adored her," said Yukiya Chikashige, a journalist who has covered the Japanese royal family for over three decades. "Her image was similar to Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn's character) in 'Roman Holiday.'''Akihito watches his then-fiancée, Michiko Shoda, flip through a photo album at his Tokyo mansion on December 26, 1958. Shoda was nicknamed "Mitchi" and her hairstyles and fashion were closely watched. "Japanese women adored her," said Yukiya Chikashige, a journalist who has covered the Japanese royal family for over three decades. "Her image was similar to Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn's character) in 'Roman Holiday.''' Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanAkihito watches his then-fiancée, Michiko Shoda, flip through a photo album at his Tokyo mansion on December 26, 1958. Shoda was nicknamed “Mitchi” and her hairstyles and fashion were closely watched. “Japanese women adored her,” said Yukiya Chikashige, a journalist who has covered the Japanese royal family for over three decades. “Her image was similar to Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn’s character) in ‘Roman Holiday.”’Hide Caption 2 of 17Michiko Shoda, now known as Empress Michiko, departs her home for the Imperial Palace in the early hours of April 10, 1959, the day of her marriage to Crown Prince Akihito. "This was a marriage for love, and between a royal and a commoner," said Chikashige. "It was new to the public." Michiko Shoda, now known as Empress Michiko, departs her home for the Imperial Palace in the early hours of April 10, 1959, the day of her marriage to Crown Prince Akihito. "This was a marriage for love, and between a royal and a commoner," said Chikashige. "It was new to the public." Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanMichiko Shoda, now known as Empress Michiko, departs her home for the Imperial Palace in the early hours of April 10, 1959, the day of her marriage to Crown Prince Akihito. “This was a marriage for love, and between a royal and a commoner,” said Chikashige. “It was new to the public.” Hide Caption 3 of 17Akihito photographed wearing a top hat and a suit on his wedding day at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, on April 10, 1959. The ceremony made Michiko Shoda, a commoner, the future empress of Japan, breaking with over 2,000 years of tradition.Akihito photographed wearing a top hat and a suit on his wedding day at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, on April 10, 1959. The ceremony made Michiko Shoda, a commoner, the future empress of Japan, breaking with over 2,000 years of tradition. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanAkihito photographed wearing a top hat and a suit on his wedding day at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, on April 10, 1959. The ceremony made Michiko Shoda, a commoner, the future empress of Japan, breaking with over 2,000 years of tradition.Hide Caption 4 of 17The future empress, seen in traditional ceremonial robes, is photographed on her way to the Kashiko-dokoro, or the Imperial Palace sanctuary, on her wedding day in 1959.The future empress, seen in traditional ceremonial robes, is photographed on her way to the Kashiko-dokoro, or the Imperial Palace sanctuary, on her wedding day in 1959. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanThe future empress, seen in traditional ceremonial robes, is photographed on her way to the Kashiko-dokoro, or the Imperial Palace sanctuary, on her wedding day in 1959.Hide Caption 5 of 17Akihito, second from the right, is assisted by an official as he enters a Shinto sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace on his wedding day in 1959.Akihito, second from the right, is assisted by an official as he enters a Shinto sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace on his wedding day in 1959. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanAkihito, second from the right, is assisted by an official as he enters a Shinto sanctuary inside the Imperial Palace on his wedding day in 1959.Hide Caption 6 of 17The couple pose during their wedding at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Michiko wore an elaborate "junihitoe," a 12-layered kimono with symbolic patterns. The couple pose during their wedding at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Michiko wore an elaborate "junihitoe," a 12-layered kimono with symbolic patterns. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanThe couple pose during their wedding at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Michiko wore an elaborate “junihitoe,” a 12-layered kimono with symbolic patterns. Hide Caption 7 of 17The newly-wed Akihito and Michiko ride in a royal carriage through the streets of Tokyo on their wedding day. Shigeo Suzuki, a former TV producer who oversaw coverage of the 1959 ceremony, recalls filming the couple waving happily to the crowds. "Their smiles," he recalled, "seemed as if they too were feeling the beginning of a new era."The newly-wed Akihito and Michiko ride in a royal carriage through the streets of Tokyo on their wedding day. Shigeo Suzuki, a former TV producer who oversaw coverage of the 1959 ceremony, recalls filming the couple waving happily to the crowds. "Their smiles," he recalled, "seemed as if they too were feeling the beginning of a new era." Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanThe newly-wed Akihito and Michiko ride in a royal carriage through the streets of Tokyo on their wedding day. Shigeo Suzuki, a former TV producer who oversaw coverage of the 1959 ceremony, recalls filming the couple waving happily to the crowds. “Their smiles,” he recalled, “seemed as if they too were feeling the beginning of a new era.”Hide Caption 8 of 17Akihito and Michiko pose for photographs at the Imperial Palace the day after the royal wedding. "The distance between the imperial family and ordinary people shortened dramatically with the marriage," said Suzuki.Akihito and Michiko pose for photographs at the Imperial Palace the day after the royal wedding. "The distance between the imperial family and ordinary people shortened dramatically with the marriage," said Suzuki. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanAkihito and Michiko pose for photographs at the Imperial Palace the day after the royal wedding. “The distance between the imperial family and ordinary people shortened dramatically with the marriage,” said Suzuki.Hide Caption 9 of 17The growth of mass media and the emergence of live television, helped to cement the pair's enormous popularity. The growth of mass media and the emergence of live television, helped to cement the pair's enormous popularity. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanThe growth of mass media and the emergence of live television, helped to cement the pair’s enormous popularity. Hide Caption 10 of 17A tram decorated with lights to celebrate the royal wedding.A tram decorated with lights to celebrate the royal wedding. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanA tram decorated with lights to celebrate the royal wedding.Hide Caption 11 of 17Prior to the royal wedding, live TV footage was usually delivered from fixed cameras. But the event marked one of the first instances when moving cameras, mounted on dollies, were used in the country. Prior to the royal wedding, live TV footage was usually delivered from fixed cameras. But the event marked one of the first instances when moving cameras, mounted on dollies, were used in the country. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanPrior to the royal wedding, live TV footage was usually delivered from fixed cameras. But the event marked one of the first instances when moving cameras, mounted on dollies, were used in the country. Hide Caption 12 of 17More than half a million people lined the parade route, while millions more tuned in to watch the wedding live. More than half a million people lined the parade route, while millions more tuned in to watch the wedding live. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanMore than half a million people lined the parade route, while millions more tuned in to watch the wedding live. Hide Caption 13 of 17"There weren't many TV sets yet, so television came behind newspapers, radio and magazines," said Suzuki. "But the wedding changed that.""There weren't many TV sets yet, so television came behind newspapers, radio and magazines," said Suzuki. "But the wedding changed that." Photos: A "love match" that won over Japan”There weren’t many TV sets yet, so television came behind newspapers, radio and magazines,” said Suzuki. “But the wedding changed that.”Hide Caption 14 of 17Tokyo residents pictured in front of Michiko Shoda house before her wedding to Akihito in 1959. The public was fascinated with the soon-to-be princess. Tokyo residents pictured in front of Michiko Shoda house before her wedding to Akihito in 1959. The public was fascinated with the soon-to-be princess. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanTokyo residents pictured in front of Michiko Shoda house before her wedding to Akihito in 1959. The public was fascinated with the soon-to-be princess. Hide Caption 15 of 17A first aid bus decorated with photos of the royal couple.A first aid bus decorated with photos of the royal couple. Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanA first aid bus decorated with photos of the royal couple.Hide Caption 16 of 17Akihito and Michiko with their son Naruhito in 1964. The couple often broke with tradition, opting to raise their own children. "They (the couple) wanted to show they were not reigning, but rather, they were just like us."Akihito and Michiko with their son Naruhito in 1964. The couple often broke with tradition, opting to raise their own children. "They (the couple) wanted to show they were not reigning, but rather, they were just like us." Photos: A "love match" that won over JapanAkihito and Michiko with their son Naruhito in 1964. The couple often broke with tradition, opting to raise their own children. “They (the couple) wanted to show they were not reigning, but rather, they were just like us.”Hide Caption 17 of 1701 akihito michiko wedding RESTRICTED02 akihito michiko wedding03 akihito michiko wedding RESTRICTED05 akihito michiko wedding08 akihito michiko RESTRICTED09 akihito michiko wedding10 akihito michiko wedding13 akihito mochiko wedding RESTRICTED11 akihito mochiko wedding RESTRICTED14 akihito mochiko wedding15 akihito mochiko wedding16 akihito mochiko wedding RESTRICTED17 akihito mochiko wedding RESTRICTED18 akihito mochiko wedding RESTRICTED19 akihito mochiko wedding RESTRICTED20 akihito mochiko wedding09 AkihitoIn his spare time, the Emperor published scientific papers on raccoon dogs, after studying their excrement, which he had collected from the Imperial grounds, and compiled research on goby fish — a species of goby is named after him.But it was in 2011, as the country reeled from the fatal earthquake and tsunami that saw more than 20,000 people die or go missing, that Akihito truly cemented his reputation as a people’s Emperor. The Emperor made an unprecedented televised address — the first time any Japanese Emperor had spoken to the public on TV. “I truly hope the victims of the disaster never give up hope, take care of themselves and live strong for tomorrow,” he said.Breaking down Japan's succession crisisBreaking down Japan's succession crisisBreaking down Japan's succession crisisJUST WATCHEDBreaking down Japan’s succession crisisReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Breaking down Japan’s succession crisis 02:47Akihito and Michiko traveled to disaster-hit areas, kneeling to talk to survivors face-to-face. “It was like a dream,” Fukushima evacuee Ayako Moriie said, describing meeting the royals in the school gymnasium where survivors were staying. “Even though they might be above the clouds where we normally can’t reach, it was comforting that they think the same as we do. His words gave us the strength to carry on.”Andrew Gordon, a leading scholar of modern Japanese history at Harvard University, said that Akihito’s actions had made the Imperial family more accessible. But he cautioned that compared to some monarchies in Europe, Japan’s was still a “very distant institution.” A new eraThe incoming Naruhito’s name means “a man who will acquire heavenly virtues.” But the crown prince has shown no hint of harking back to the era of the demi-gods when he ascends to the Japanese throne on May 1. Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito attends a wedding in Luxembourg in 2012. He is the oldest son of Emperor Akihito.Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito attends a wedding in Luxembourg in 2012. He is the oldest son of Emperor Akihito. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorJapanese Crown Prince Naruhito attends a wedding in Luxembourg in 2012. He is the oldest son of Emperor Akihito.Hide Caption 1 of 38Naruhito is held by his mother, Crown Princess Michiko, after being born in Tokyo in February 1960. Naruhito's name means "a man who will acquire heavenly virtues."Naruhito is held by his mother, Crown Princess Michiko, after being born in Tokyo in February 1960. Naruhito's name means "a man who will acquire heavenly virtues." Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito is held by his mother, Crown Princess Michiko, after being born in Tokyo in February 1960. Naruhito’s name means “a man who will acquire heavenly virtues.”Hide Caption 2 of 38Michiko plays with 2-year-old Naruhito in the gardens of the Togu Royal Palace in May 1961.Michiko plays with 2-year-old Naruhito in the gardens of the Togu Royal Palace in May 1961. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorMichiko plays with 2-year-old Naruhito in the gardens of the Togu Royal Palace in May 1961.Hide Caption 3 of 38Naruhito walks with his parents on a beach at the Hayama Imperial Villa in June 1961.Naruhito walks with his parents on a beach at the Hayama Imperial Villa in June 1961. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito walks with his parents on a beach at the Hayama Imperial Villa in June 1961.Hide Caption 4 of 38Naruhito plays on a swing on his fifth birthday in February 1965.Naruhito plays on a swing on his fifth birthday in February 1965. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito plays on a swing on his fifth birthday in February 1965.Hide Caption 5 of 38Naruhito throws a paper airplane with his parents in October 1965.Naruhito throws a paper airplane with his parents in October 1965. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito throws a paper airplane with his parents in October 1965.Hide Caption 6 of 38Naruhito studies a globe with his mother in February 1968.Naruhito studies a globe with his mother in February 1968. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito studies a globe with his mother in February 1968.Hide Caption 7 of 38Naruhito paddles at the Children's Land playground in Yokohama, Japan, in June 1968.Naruhito paddles at the Children's Land playground in Yokohama, Japan, in June 1968. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito paddles at the Children’s Land playground in Yokohama, Japan, in June 1968.Hide Caption 8 of 38Naruhito runs a relay race at his school in Tokyo in 1970.Naruhito runs a relay race at his school in Tokyo in 1970. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito runs a relay race at his school in Tokyo in 1970.Hide Caption 9 of 38Naruhito, front middle, plays a pinball game with his two siblings -- Sayako, left, and Fumihito -- in 1972. Watching them, from left, are their parents, Michiko and Akihito; their grandparents, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako; their uncle Masahito; and their aunt Hanako.Naruhito, front middle, plays a pinball game with his two siblings -- Sayako, left, and Fumihito -- in 1972. Watching them, from left, are their parents, Michiko and Akihito; their grandparents, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako; their uncle Masahito; and their aunt Hanako. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito, front middle, plays a pinball game with his two siblings — Sayako, left, and Fumihito — in 1972. Watching them, from left, are their parents, Michiko and Akihito; their grandparents, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako; their uncle Masahito; and their aunt Hanako.Hide Caption 10 of 38Tomohide Gomi, honorary professor of Tokyo University, teaches Naruhito about the "Manyoshu" poetry anthology in 1977. Naruhito studied at Oxford University in England. He earned a degree from Gakushuin University in Tokyo.Tomohide Gomi, honorary professor of Tokyo University, teaches Naruhito about the "Manyoshu" poetry anthology in 1977. Naruhito studied at Oxford University in England. He earned a degree from Gakushuin University in Tokyo. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorTomohide Gomi, honorary professor of Tokyo University, teaches Naruhito about the “Manyoshu” poetry anthology in 1977. Naruhito studied at Oxford University in England. He earned a degree from Gakushuin University in Tokyo.Hide Caption 11 of 38Naruhito and his parents welcome former US President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in 1989.Naruhito and his parents welcome former US President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in 1989. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and his parents welcome former US President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan in 1989.Hide Caption 12 of 38Naruhito chats with his fiancee, Masako Owada, in June 1993. Like his father, Naruhito married a commoner. Masako previously worked as a diplomat.Naruhito chats with his fiancee, Masako Owada, in June 1993. Like his father, Naruhito married a commoner. Masako previously worked as a diplomat. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito chats with his fiancee, Masako Owada, in June 1993. Like his father, Naruhito married a commoner. Masako previously worked as a diplomat.Hide Caption 13 of 38Naruhito leaves the sanctuary inside the palace where he attended wedding rites with his bride in June 1993.Naruhito leaves the sanctuary inside the palace where he attended wedding rites with his bride in June 1993. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito leaves the sanctuary inside the palace where he attended wedding rites with his bride in June 1993.Hide Caption 14 of 38Tokyo metro police control an excited crowd of "Masako admirers" before the start of a parade honoring Naruhito and his new wife in 1993.Tokyo metro police control an excited crowd of "Masako admirers" before the start of a parade honoring Naruhito and his new wife in 1993. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorTokyo metro police control an excited crowd of “Masako admirers” before the start of a parade honoring Naruhito and his new wife in 1993.Hide Caption 15 of 38Crown Princess Masako waves to the imperial household staff as she and Naruhito depart for their wedding parade.Crown Princess Masako waves to the imperial household staff as she and Naruhito depart for their wedding parade. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorCrown Princess Masako waves to the imperial household staff as she and Naruhito depart for their wedding parade.Hide Caption 16 of 38Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, left, lead their children and their spouses during a garden party in Tokyo in 1997.Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, left, lead their children and their spouses during a garden party in Tokyo in 1997. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorEmperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, left, lead their children and their spouses during a garden party in Tokyo in 1997.Hide Caption 17 of 38Naruhito and Masako walk with their daughter, Aiko, during a family outing in August 2002. Aiko is their only child.Naruhito and Masako walk with their daughter, Aiko, during a family outing in August 2002. Aiko is their only child. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and Masako walk with their daughter, Aiko, during a family outing in August 2002. Aiko is their only child.Hide Caption 18 of 38Naruhito and Masako attend the funeral of Akihito's cousin, Prince Takamado, in November 2002.Naruhito and Masako attend the funeral of Akihito's cousin, Prince Takamado, in November 2002. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and Masako attend the funeral of Akihito’s cousin, Prince Takamado, in November 2002.Hide Caption 19 of 38Naruhito takes a photo of photographers during a five-day visit to Portugal in May 2004.Naruhito takes a photo of photographers during a five-day visit to Portugal in May 2004. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito takes a photo of photographers during a five-day visit to Portugal in May 2004.Hide Caption 20 of 38Naruhito, center, takes part in Gakushuin University's alumni orchestra concert in July 2004.Naruhito, center, takes part in Gakushuin University's alumni orchestra concert in July 2004. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito, center, takes part in Gakushuin University’s alumni orchestra concert in July 2004.Hide Caption 21 of 38Naruhito pays his respects to the late Pope John Paul II during a memorial service in Tokyo in April 2005.Naruhito pays his respects to the late Pope John Paul II during a memorial service in Tokyo in April 2005. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito pays his respects to the late Pope John Paul II during a memorial service in Tokyo in April 2005.Hide Caption 22 of 38Naruhito with his wife, Masako, and his daughter, Aiko, in November 2005.Naruhito with his wife, Masako, and his daughter, Aiko, in November 2005. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito with his wife, Masako, and his daughter, Aiko, in November 2005.Hide Caption 23 of 38Naruhito and his family mingle with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and members of her family during a trip to Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in 2006.Naruhito and his family mingle with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and members of her family during a trip to Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in 2006. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and his family mingle with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and members of her family during a trip to Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in 2006.Hide Caption 24 of 38Princess Aiko dances in front of her parents during a school sports event in 2007.Princess Aiko dances in front of her parents during a school sports event in 2007. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorPrincess Aiko dances in front of her parents during a school sports event in 2007.Hide Caption 25 of 38Naruhito delivers a speech in Tokyo during a send-off ceremony for Japanese Olympians in 2008.Naruhito delivers a speech in Tokyo during a send-off ceremony for Japanese Olympians in 2008. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito delivers a speech in Tokyo during a send-off ceremony for Japanese Olympians in 2008.Hide Caption 26 of 38Naruhito is joined by his parents and other family members during a park visit in 2009.Naruhito is joined by his parents and other family members during a park visit in 2009. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito is joined by his parents and other family members during a park visit in 2009.Hide Caption 27 of 38Naruhito takes a photo of a rhinoceros while touring a reserve in Kenya in March 2010.Naruhito takes a photo of a rhinoceros while touring a reserve in Kenya in March 2010. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito takes a photo of a rhinoceros while touring a reserve in Kenya in March 2010.Hide Caption 28 of 38Naruhito, Aiko and Masako pose with their pets in December 2010.Naruhito, Aiko and Masako pose with their pets in December 2010. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito, Aiko and Masako pose with their pets in December 2010.Hide Caption 29 of 38Naruhito and Masako listen to Iwanuma Mayor Tsneaki Iguchi while touring the tsunami-devastated city in June 2011.Naruhito and Masako listen to Iwanuma Mayor Tsneaki Iguchi while touring the tsunami-devastated city in June 2011. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and Masako listen to Iwanuma Mayor Tsneaki Iguchi while touring the tsunami-devastated city in June 2011.Hide Caption 30 of 38Naruhito and Masako trail Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as they leave for Great Britain in 2012. They were going to attend a ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee.Naruhito and Masako trail Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as they leave for Great Britain in 2012. They were going to attend a ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and Masako trail Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as they leave for Great Britain in 2012. They were going to attend a ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.Hide Caption 31 of 38Naruhito and Masako attend King Willem's inauguration ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2013.Naruhito and Masako attend King Willem's inauguration ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2013. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and Masako attend King Willem’s inauguration ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2013.Hide Caption 32 of 38Princess Aiko and her parents attend her graduation ceremony at the Gakushuin Primary School in March 2014.Princess Aiko and her parents attend her graduation ceremony at the Gakushuin Primary School in March 2014. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorPrincess Aiko and her parents attend her graduation ceremony at the Gakushuin Primary School in March 2014.Hide Caption 33 of 38Naruhito, second from left, joins his father as they greet the public at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in December 2014.Naruhito, second from left, joins his father as they greet the public at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in December 2014. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito, second from left, joins his father as they greet the public at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in December 2014.Hide Caption 34 of 38Naruhito jogs around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in February 2015.Naruhito jogs around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in February 2015. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito jogs around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in February 2015.Hide Caption 35 of 38Naruhito arrives in Paris in September 2018.Naruhito arrives in Paris in September 2018. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito arrives in Paris in September 2018.Hide Caption 36 of 38Naruhito waves with his father, who was delivering his final New Year's address in 2019.Naruhito waves with his father, who was delivering his final New Year's address in 2019. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito waves with his father, who was delivering his final New Year’s address in 2019.Hide Caption 37 of 38Naruhito and Masako are greeted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in April 2019.Naruhito and Masako are greeted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in April 2019. Photos: Japan's Naruhito: From Crown Prince to EmperorNaruhito and Masako are greeted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in April 2019.Hide Caption 38 of 38naruhito 47Naruhito 02Naruhito 03Naruhito 04Naruhito 06Naruhito 05Naruhito 07Naruhito 08Naruhito 09Naruhito 10Naruhito 12Naruhito 13Naruhito 17Naruhito 15Naruhito 16Naruhito 18Naruhito 14Naruhito 21Naruhito 20Naruhito 42Naruhito 23Naruhito 25Naruhito 24Naruhito 45Naruhito 26Naruhito 27Naruhito 29Naruhito 30Naruhito 31Naruhito 32Naruhito 38Naruhito 36Naruhito 37Naruhito 41Naruhito 34Naruhito 01Naruhito 40Naruhito 39The crown prince studied at Oxford University and is passionate about environmental issues. Like his father, he has married a commoner, Masako Owada, who previously worked as a career diplomat. Those who know Naruhito describe him as “modest, charming and astute,” says Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan. Naruhito has also indicated that he will continue his father’s legacy of speaking out against revisionist history of WWII. “I myself did not experience the war,” he said on his 55th birthday in 2015. “But I think that it is important today, when memories of the war are fading, to look back humbly on the past and correctly pass on the tragic experiences and history Japan pursued from the generation which experienced the war to those without direct knowledge.”In February, the crown prince went further to explicitly say that he will continue his father’s legacy. “I want to earnestly fulfill my duties by always being close to the people, and sharing with them their joys and sorrows,” he said at a press conference.The challenge for Naruhito will be how to emerge from the shadow of his father and establish himself as a modern leader of Japan’s ancient monarchy.

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https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/29/asia/japan-imperial-abdication-akihito-reiwa-intl/index.html

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