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Hitoshi Sato, a university official, with a sign reading "Heisei, Thank you" poses for a photo taken by his wife Yang Shufeng, from Taiwan, in front of Imperial Palace in Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Japan’s Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate later in the day as Japan embraces the end of his reign with an emotion mixed with reminiscence and hopes for a new era. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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A man holds a Japanese flag as people gather near Imperial Palace, back, in Tokyo Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Japan’s Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate later in the day as Japan embraces the end of his reign with an emotion mixed with reminiscence and hopes for a new era. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO – The Latest on Emperor Akihito's abdication (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Japanese people are visiting shrines and temples and eating dinners marking the end of the Heisei era as Emperor Akihito abdicates.

Akihito visited a shrine to report his retirement to Shinto gods in a morning ritual and later Tuesday will announce his retirement to the royal family and top government officials.

Akihito's reign runs through midnight when his son Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor and his era begins.

People who visited shrines and temples on Tuesday received stamps dated the last day of the Heisei era, referring to his three-decade reign. Amusement parks and some shops offered free admission and special deals and customers at restaurants ate their last Heisei meals.

Heisei means "achieving peace," and the name of Naruhito's era beginning Wednesday is Reiwa, or "beautiful harmony."

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3:15 p.m.

South Korea says President Moon Jae-in has sent a letter to outgoing Japanese Emperor Akihito, expressing gratitude for what Moon described as positive contributions to peace and bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul on Tuesday said the Seoul government also congratulates Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, who on Wednesday will officially become the new Japanese emperor. Kim says the Seoul government will consider sending a delegation to Japan in October when the country plans to hold a coronation ceremony with foreign guests.

Relations between South Korean and Japan have recently sunk to their worst level in recent years over compensation issues related to the Japanese army's sexual abuse of "comfort women" and forced labor by Koreans during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 through 1945.

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10:20 a.m.

Emperor Akihito has begun his abdication rituals as Japan embraces the end of his reign with reminiscence and hope for a new era.

TV footage Tuesday morning showed Akihito entering a shrine to report his retirement to Shinto gods. Only part of the ritual was released to the public. In a palace ritual later in the day, he will announce his retirement before other members of the royal family and top government officials.

Akihito's reign runs through midnight when his son Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor and his era begins.

Akihito has devoted his career to make amends for the victims of a war fought in his father's name, while bringing the aloof monarchy closer to the people.

Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum throne in a separate ceremony on Wednesday.

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/world/the-latest-japanese-people-mark-end-of-heisei-era

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