Emperor Akihito's abdication Tuesday will end the three-decade Heisei Era that began on Jan. 8, 1989, a day after he inherited the throne upon the death of his father, Emperor Showa.

During his rein, Japan struggled with economic stagnation and was hit by several natural disasters, and grappled with how to maintain its pacifism amidst a shifting regional security landscape. In spite of difficult times, it was also a period where Japan's soft power attracted global recognition, largely through its pop culture.

Below are key events that marked Emperor Akihito's era: