At noon on Aug. 15, 1945, the people of Japan gathered solemnly around their radios. It was the first time that the nation had heard the Emperor's voice. Japan had surrendered to the Allies.

The 玉音放送 (Gyokuon Hōsō, Jewel Voice Broadcast) given by 裕仁天皇 (Hirohito Tennō, Emperor Hirohito) — posthumously known as 昭和天皇 (Shōwa Tennō, Emperor Showa) — was delivered in formal fashion, and in an old form of Japanese that many today would find difficult to understand. There was also no direct reference to an actual 降伏 (kōfuku, surrender); instead, the Emperor said that Japan had been instructed to fully accept the terms of the ポツダム宣言 (Potsudamu Sengen, Potsdam Declaration). This led to widespread confusion among the attentive masses — the poor audio quality of the broadcast didn't help much, either.

Fast-forward to Aug. 8, 2016, and Hirohito's 息子 (musuko, son) and 後継者 (kōkeisha, successor) was in front on the camera giving a speech of his own, to a slightly confused nation. The widespread expectation before the broadcast was that 明仁天皇 (Akihito Tennō, Emperor Akihito), 82, would express his wish to 退位 (tai'i, abdicate), citing age and health concerns.