Japan emperor greets public in final New Year’s appearance

  • Japanese Emperor Akihito, left, accompanied by Empress Michiko, second from left, delivers a speech during an imperial ceremony in the celebration of New Year at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Tuesday. Jan. 1, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)

  • Japan’s Emperor Akihito waves to well-wishers from the bullet-proofed balcony during his New Year’s public appearance with his family members at Imperial Palace in Tokyo Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — Japanese Emperor Akihito has waved to throngs of well-wishers eager to see the final New Year’s appearance in his reign.

He told the crowd Wednesday at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo: “I am truly happy to celebrate the New Year with all of you under such cloudless skies.”

Akihito will abdicate on April 30 and his son will succeed him.

Akihito, who inherited the Chrysanthemum Throne from wartime emperor Hirohito, has appeared each year to wish peace for the nation with his wife Empress Michiko and other family members.

Japanese media reported the attendance at nearly 60,000 people as of late morning, many of them waving Japanese flags.

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