After the abdication of 85-year-old Emperor Akihito, who ruled from 1989 to 2019, his son Naruhito became Japan‘s new Emperor at 59 on May 1, 2019. His accession to the throne marks the beginning of the Reiwa era, “era of beautiful harmony”, which succeeds the Heisei era, “era of the achievement of peace” of the former Emperor Akihito (1989-2019). It becomes the 248th in the history of Japan.
The thirty-year reign of Akihito has been marked by a global stagnation of the economy, which has moved from 2nd in the world to 3rd place behind the United States and China, many major natural and industrial disasters such as the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, and a sharp drop in the country’s demographics, with Japan becoming the world’s oldest country.
The emperor has few functions, if not symbolic. He does not exercise the leadership of the country, vested in the Prime Minister, now in the hands of conservative Shinzō Abe.