The descent of Japanese emperor Akihito from the Chrysanthemum throne on April 30 will mark the end of a reign of 29 years. This places the member of the imperial family into the top 10 of the longest reigning emperors of Japan
. In fact, Akihito shares rank 7 with Edo period emperor Ninkō (1817-1846) and emperor Go-Murakami (1339-1368), who ruled the Southern court during the time of split courts in the Muromachi period.
The Japanese government has declared the days leading up to the abdication a holiday. Time off for all employees will start on April 27 and run for ten days until May 6, incorporating the holidays of the traditional Golden Week in early May into a national holiday of unprecedented length. On May 1, Akihito’s son Naruhito will ascend the throne.
The emperor with the longest confirmed reign
is actually Akihito’s father, emperor Shōwa, who reigned from 1928 until his death in 1989 and was known as Hirohito during his lifetime. He lived for 87 years and reigned for 61, but his impressive track record can’t match that of Japanese emperors before 539, who are excluded from the ranking due to uncertainty about the exact dates of their lives and reigns as well as their actual existence. While emperor Nintoku for example likely did exist, it is less likely that he reigned for 86 years from 313 to 399 and lived for 142 years.