Japan’s Emperor Akihito has declared his abdication in a historic ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
In his last public address as emperor, Akihito handed over the symbols of power and thanked the public for their support during his 30-year reign.
The 85-year-old was given permission to abdicate after saying he felt unable to fulfil his role because of his age and declining health.
He is the first Japanese monarch to stand down in more than 200 years.
Akihito will technically remain emperor until midnight.
His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend the throne later on Wednesday. A new era – called Reiwa, meaning order and harmony – will begin in Japan’s unique calendar.
While the emperor holds no political power, he serves as a national figurehead.
Akihito has endeared himself to many Japanese people during his reign as he has interacted with those suffering from disease and disaster.