emperor akihito

U.S. President Obama walks with Japan's Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko past an honour guard with Japan and U.S. flags during an official arrival ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo...U.S. President Barack Obama walks with Japan's Emperor Akihito (3rd L) and his wife Empress Michiko (L) past an honour guard with Japan and U.S. flags during an official arrival ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo April 24, 2014. Obama will use a state visit to Japan on Thursday to try to reassure Asian allies of his commitment to ramping up U.S. engagement in the region, despite Chinese complaints that his real aim is to contain Beijing's rise. REUTERS/Jim Watson/Pool

Jim Watson/Reuters

US president Barack Obama with Japan’s emperor Akihito and empress Michiko pass an honour guard during an arrival ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo 

Japanese  well-wishers shout "banzai" (cheers) for Japan's Emperor Akihito during the royal family's public appearance for New Year celebrations at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo...Japanese well-wishers shout "banzai" (cheers) for Japan's Emperor Akihito during the royal family's public appearance for New Year celebrations at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo January 2, 2014.

Yuya Shino/Reuters

Japanese well-wishers shout “banzai” to Japan’s Emperor Akihito during the royal family’s public appearance for new year celebrations at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Thursday.

Emperor Akihito greets public on his 80th birthday...epa03999823 Well-wishers wave Japanese national flags while celebrating Emperor Akihito's 80th birthday during his public appearance at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 23 December 2013. Emperor Akihito, who reached his 80th birthday, still handles various events despite having heart surgery in 2012.

Franck Robichon/EPA

Well-wishers wave Japanese flags while celebrating Emperor Akihito’s 80th birthday during his public appearance at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Emperor Akihito still handles various events despite having heart surgery in 2012.