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Akihito will announce his abdication in a palace ritual on Tuesday evening, but technically he remains the emperor until midnight, when his era of "Heisei", or "achieving peace," ends and his son Naruhito takes over, starting a new "Reiwa" era of "beautiful harmony".
The succession has been marked by festivities across Japan, though the rituals are off-limits to the public and traffic will be tightly controlled outside the palace. A more elaborate enthronement ceremony for Naruhito will be held in October, when he will proclaim his ascension before officials and guests from inside and outside the country.