Japan's Emperor Akihito waves to well-wishers who gathered at the Imperial Palace to mark his 82nd birthday in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 23, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File photo
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Japanese Emperor Akihito, who has spent much of his time on the throne trying to heal the wounds of World War II, intends to abdicate in a few years, public broadcaster NHK and other domestic media said Wednesday, a step that would be unprecedented in modern Japan.Born in 1933, Akihito was heir to Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought World War II.Emperor Kokaku, who gave up the throne in 1817, was the last Japanese emperor to abdicate, NHK said.Akihito's efforts to draw the imperial family closer to the people in image, if not in fact, have played into a carefully crafted picture of a "middle-class monarchy" that has helped shield it from the harsh criticism suffered by flashier royals abroad.
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