A ceremony to celebrate 30 years of Emperor Akihito's reign has been held in Tokyo, with the attendance of the Imperial couple.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Speaker and President of both chambers of the Diet, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, members of the Diet, representatives of businesses and foreign ambassadors to Japan also attended Sunday's event at the National Theatre.
In his congratulatory speech, Abe said the Emperor has served as the symbol of the state and the unity of the people during the past 30 years, carrying out his duties with devotion, and always standing close by to the people.
Abe also said that, amid the rapidly changing international situation, the people of Japan are determined to work for the creation of a bright future for Japan as a country full of hope and pride, while keeping the way the Emperor has lived deep in mind.
Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi also gave speeches.
Kawaguchi has accompanied the Imperial couple on a number of overseas visits.
Uchibori thanked the Emperor for sending a video message to the public after the 2011 quake and tsunami disaster, saying it encouraged and united people.
A singer from Okinawa, Daichi Miura, performed a song written by the Emperor and composed by the Empress after they met people living in a leprosy sanatorium in the southern prefecture.
The Emperor said, for the 30 years in the Heisei Era, Japan has been supported by the strong will of the people seeking peace. He added that it has been the first era in the modern and present ages of the country that has never experienced wars.
The Emperor also said "I have been able to fulfill my duties thanks to the people of Japan, whose symbol of unity I take pride and joy in being, and the cultural level of this country which has been nurtured by the people of Japan over many years, from the past to the present. "
Emperor Akihito is scheduled to abdicate on April 30. Crown Prince Naruhito's accession is set for the next day, May 1.