TOKYO: Following are remarks by Japanese Emperor Akihito at his abdication ceremony on Tuesday in the Imperial Palace's Matsu no ma, or Hall of Pine.
"Today, I am finishing my duty as emperor. Let me express my deep appreciation for the remarks Prime Minister Abe has just given as the representative of the Japanese people.
"It is fortunate that I have been able to perform my duty as emperor with profound trust in and respect for the Japanese people for 30 years since my ascension to the throne.
"To the people who accepted and supported me as a symbol, I express my heartfelt thanks.
"Together with the empress, I hope from my heart that the new Reiwa (imperial) era that begins tomorrow will be peaceful and fruitful, and pray for the peace and happiness of our country and the people of the world."
Emperor Akihito is the first Japanese monarch to stand down in more than 200 years since 1817, the BBC reported.
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.
What happened on Tuesday
The Taiirei-Seiden-nogi, or main Ceremony of the Abdication of His Majesty the Emperor, is taking place at the Matsu-no-Ma state room in the Imperial Palace.
It began at 5 pm with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko entering the room. Over 330 attendants were also present.
The ceremony ended with Akihito delivering his final address as emperor, though he will technically remain emperor until midnight.
126thplace of Emperor Naruhito in the Japan's Imperial palace. From Wednesday morning, he will officially lead the country into the new Reiwa era
On Wednesday morning, Crown Prince Naruhito will inherit the Imperial Treasures in his first ritual as Japan's 126th emperor — and will officially lead the country into the new Reiwa era.
It will mark the end of the current Heisei era, which began when Akihito ascended the throne in 1989.
The emperor in Japan holds no political power but serves as a national symbol.