- Japan’s Emperor Akihito is stepping down on April 30 in the country’s first abdication in 200 years.
- He p erformed a sacred ritual on Thursday to report his abdication to the Shinto gods and start the succession process.
- His son, Naruhito, will become emperor on May 1.
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Japan’s 85-year-old emperor performed a sacred ritual involving a the country’s imperial treasures to report his abdication to religious gods on Wednesday.
Emperor Akihito performed the “Shinetsu no Gi” ritual at Ise Grand Shrine in central Japan to confirm his resignation from the throne and put the succession process into motion.
The ritual is part of Japan’s Shinto religion, which emphasises rituals and rites as a means to communicate with spiritual beings.
Akihito announced his plan to step down due to health reasons in December 2017, marking the country’s first abdication in 200 years.
He will retire on April 30 and his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will succeed the throne on May 1.
Photos on Thursday showed Akihito entering the shrine in a morning suit, with palace officials holding up a sword and a jewel – Japan’s imperial treasures – wrapped in cloth. The ritual also included a mirror, which was kept inside the shrine, The Associated Press reported.
The three treasures – called Sanshu no Jingi – will be given to Naruhito when he ascends the throne.
Akihito’s wife, Empress Michiko, and daughter Sayako Kuroda – who is also the head priest of Isa shrine – also attended the ceremony.
Akihito and Michiko prayed at the shrine as part of the ritual,The Japan Times reported. It’s not clear what the other steps are, and there is no footage from inside the temple.
This was Akihito and Michiko’s last trip before his abdication.
The Japanese government is giving citizens ten consecutive days off – from April 27 to May 6 – to celebrate Naruhito’s ascension.
While some citizens are celebrating the extra-long holiday by booking vacations overseas, many others are complaining about the lack of childcare services and having nothing to do. Financial markets are also bracing for turmoil.
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