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Photos: Japan's Emperor Akihito

Updated 10:48 AM ET, Tue January 2, 2018
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Japanese Emperor Akihito turned 84 on December 23, 2017. Akihito is the 125th Emperor of Japan, a direct descendant of Japan's first emperor Jimmu, circa 660 B.C. Here, we take a look at the life of the world's only monarch with the title of emperor. Ajay Agarwal/Hindustan Times/Getty Images
A portrait of Crown Prince Akihito in January 1936 at age 3. He is the son of Empress Nagako and Emperor Hirohito, whom he succeeded in 1989. The Chrysanthemum Throne is the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. Records show the imperial line to be unbroken for 14 centuries. Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
Crown Prince Akihito with some of his school friends at the Imperial School in Tokyo, circa 1938. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Crown Prince Akihito in ceremonial robes for his formal investiture as crown prince at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on November 10, 1952. Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Prince Akihito in his private study at the Imperial Palace in 1952. Three Lions/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II and Akihito are seen in the royal box at the Epsom Downs Racecourse on June 6, 1953, in England. Crown Prince Akihito made the trip to attend her coronation. The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images
Akihito addresses the crowd upon arrival at Oahu Airport on October 8, 1953, in Honolulu. During seven months of travel, the crown prince visited 14 countries. The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images
Akihito during his wedding to Michiko Shoda in 1959. He is the first Japanese crown prince to marry a commoner. Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
Akihito with his pet dog Dingo in December 1963, on the grounds of Togu Palace, his residence in Tokyo. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Prince Akihito takes a walk with Princess Michiko and their son Naruhito in 1964. Larry Burrows//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
In a 1969 portrait, Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako pose with their children and grandchildren. Crown Prince Akihito stands on the far right. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Visitors to China's Forbidden City walk beneath Japanese and Chinese flags, flown to welcome Emperor Akihito on October 23,1992. Akihito's visit to China was the first ever by a Japanese emperor. YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
President Bill Clinton offers a toast to Emperor Akihito at the White House in June 1994, during the first state dinner of Clinton's administration. STF/AFP/Getty Images
South African President Nelson Mandela and Emperor Akihito toast during a banquet at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in July 1995. Kyodo/AP
Emperor Akihito leaves the Imperial Palace for the hospital in January 2003. The emperor had a successful operation to remove his cancerous prostate. Junko Kimura/Getty Images
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko leave the residence of the late Princess Kikuko after paying their respects in Tokyo on December 19, 2004. The princess was Akihito's aunt. ITSUO INOUYE/AFP/Getty Images
Akihito's eldest son and heir-apparent, Crown Prince Naruhito, granddaughter Princess Aiko, and Crown Princess Masako enter the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on September 2, 2006. YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
The Emperor and the Empress greet U.S. President Barack Obama at the Imperial Palace on November 14, 2009. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Akihito leaves the University of Tokyo Hospital in Tokyo on February 12, 2012. Akihito was scheduled to undergo heart bypass surgery after tests showed the narrowing of his arteries had worsened. JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are greeted at Chennai International Airport in India on December 4, 2013, after arriving from New Delhi on the second leg of their weeklong trip to India. This was the first time they had been to India in 53 years. Kyodo/AP
From the balcony of the Imperial Palace, Emperor Akihito greets thousands of people, waving Japanese flags, who have gathered to wish him a happy 82nd birthday on December 23, 2014. KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Then Philippine President, Benigno Aquino welcomes Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as they start their 5-day state visit to the Philippines on January 26, 2016. A gesture to honor 60 years of strong diplomacy post-WWII, their trip marked the first-ever visit by a reigning Japanese emperor to the Philippines. TED ALJIBE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko wave to well-wishers from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on January 2, 2018. KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images