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Historic abdication When Japan’s emperors came to Switzerland

Japan is welcoming a new emperor, whose father's abdication marks the end of an era. Both men have paid visits to Switzerland over the years.

The abdication of emperor Akihito on Tuesday (at midnight local time) is the first time anybody has stepped down from the role in 200 years.

Now it’s the turn of Akihito’s son, Naruhito, to take his place. Naruhito is no stranger to Switzerland: in fact he visited in 2014 to celebrate 150 years of diplomatic relations between the countries.

He was shown around the city of Bern by then-mayor Alexander Tschäppät in a trip that Swiss media commented on as being something of a welcome break for the heir to the throne; normally his trips were tightly controlled and lacking in contact with many “normal people”.

An era come to an end

The abdication of Akihito after 30 years as emperor brings a certain era to an end in Japan: while his was the age of “Heisei”, or “building peace”, the era to be ushered in on Wednesday is known as “Reiwa”, or the age of “beautiful harmony”.

A short statement by the 85-year-old Akihito wrapped up his three-decade-long reign by maintaining his “deep respect and love for the people”.

Akihito also visited Switzerland, with his wife Michiko, in the year 2000. The three-day trip brought him to the headquarters of the Red Cross, as well as face to face with then-Swiss president Adolf Ogi.

Almost half a century before this, in 1953 and at 19 years old, then heir to the throne Akihito also visited Switzerland as the last stage in a world tour several months long.

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SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

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