Emperor Akihito to abdicate
Japanese Emperor Akihito (seated 3rd L) and Empress Michiko (seated 4th L), smile with their family members during a photo session for the New Year at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan in this handout picture taken November 28, 2016, and provided by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Also in the picture are Crown Prince Naruhito (seated 2nd L), his wife, Crown Princess Masako (Seated L), their daughter, Princess Aiko (top 2nd L), Prince Akishino, (Seated 2nd R), his wife, Princess Kiko (Seated R), their daughters, Princess Mako (top L), and Princess Kako (top R), and their son, Prince Hisahito (top 2nd R). Reuters

Japan's new emperor, Naruhito, expressed deep remorse over the country's wartime past and prayed for global peace on Thursday, echoing his father's words in remarks at an annual ceremony marking Tokyo's surrender in World War Two.

Naruhito, 59, became Japan's first monarch born after the war when he inherited the throne in May. His father, Akihito, stepped down in the first abdication by a Japanese emperor in two centuries.

"Looking back on the long period of post-war peace, reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated," he said.

"Together with all of our people, I pay my heartfelt tribute to all those who lost their lives in the war ... and pray for world peace and the further development of our country," Naruhito said, echoing his father's message a year ago.

Naruhito is a grandson of Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japanese troops fought World War Two.