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Japan's Reiwa era

Japan's emperor thanks country, prays for peace before abdication

Heisei era will come to a close at midnight, to be followed by Reiwa era

Emperor Akihito reads remarks during the abdication ceremony at the Imperial Palace. The emperor thanked the Japanese people for their acceptance and support. (Pool photo)

TOKYO -- Japan's Emperor Akihito on Tuesday offered his thanks to people just hours before stepping down after 30 years and four months on the throne. The Heisei era will come to a close at midnight, and the new era of Reiwa will begin, with the first abdication since constitutional rule was adopted in the 19th century.

"I am deeply grateful to the Japanese people, who have supported and accepted me as a symbol," the emperor said in front of guests. "The empress and I will pray our country and people around the world will experience peace and happiness in the Reiwa era that begins tomorrow."

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