Akihito's legacy: Healing scars of war in the region

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Tokyo in 2017. The 85-year-old Emperor, who will step down on Tuesday after 30 years on the throne, is abdicating because of old age. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will take over on Wednesday. Analysts say
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Tokyo in 2017. The 85-year-old Emperor, who will step down on Tuesday after 30 years on the throne, is abdicating because of old age. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will take over on Wednesday. Analysts say the act of abdication, the first in 200 years, could affect Japan's direction and its relationships with the region and the rest of the world. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Tokyo in 2017. The 85-year-old Emperor, who will step down on Tuesday after 30 years on the throne, is abdicating because of old age. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, will take over on Wednesday. Analysts say
Emperor Akihito (right) with South Korea's President Roh Tae-woo at a banquet hosted by the Emperor in Tokyo on May 24, 1990.PHOTO: REUTERS

Known as the pacifist monarch, he has helped Japan improve ties with neighbours

Japan's Emperor Akihito steps down this Tuesday after 30 years on the throne - and one of his many legacies is how he healed the scars of World War II with countries in the region.

So say analysts The Sunday Times spoke to in weighing up the end of an era, including Professor Jeff Kingston of Temple University Japan, who noted that the 85-year-old Emperor had advanced reconciliation in South-east Asia "more than all of Japan's prime ministers combined".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 28, 2019, with the headline 'Akihito's legacy: Healing scars of war in the region'. Print Edition | Subscribe