BREAKING: Legendary Japanese emperor to step-down in first abdication for nearly 200 years

Japan’s constitution defines the emperor as a symbol of the state and the people, without political power.

His duties include Shinto religious ceremonies and constitutionally-defined tasks, such as the opening of parliament.

The octogenarian Akihito’s 29-year reign has also been marked by travels to domestic disaster sites to cheer survivors, and overseas to soothe the wounds of a war fought in the name of his father, Emperor Hirohito, who was considered divine until Japan’s defeat in World War Two.

More to follow…