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Japan's Emperor Akihito, with Empress Michiko, waves to well-wishers in the central Japanese prefecture of Mie on April 18. Emperor Akihito takes part in a series of rituals ahead of his abdication. Kazuhiro Ngoi/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Kazuhiro Ngoi/AFP/Getty Images

Emperor Akihito, Japan's 'Surprising Pacifist,' Steps Down After 30 Years

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Japan's parliament has approved a law permitting Emperor Akihito (left) to abdicate the throne as he requested. Members of the deliberately small royal family, including Empress Michiko (second from left), attend a spring garden party at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Pedestrians in Tokyo watch as Emperor Akihito speaks to the nation. In the rare video message, Akihito said old age and illness may make it difficult for him to fulfill his public duties. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images hide caption

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Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

In A Rare Speech, Japan's Emperor Hints At Abdicating

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