Japan’s Emperor Naruhito has pledged to fulfil his role as a “symbol of the state and unity”, in his first public address since taking the throne. Naruhito succeeds his father, 85-year-old Akihito, who abdicated citing his age and failing health. He is the first Japanese emperor to stand down in more than 200 years. Akihito, who will now be known as Emperor Emeritus, had endeared himself to many Japanese people during his reign through his interactions with those suffering from disease and disaster. In his speech, Emperor Naruhito paid tribute to his father while pledging to show the same devotion to his people.