Emperor Akihito, who will abdicate Tuesday, has reigned for three decades from 1989 through the Heisei Era as a "symbol of the state and of the unity of the people" with Empress Michiko at his side.

The Imperial Couple have made it their mission to stand beside the Japanese people, visiting disaster shelters and evacuation centers to comfort victims.

They have also worked to heal past wounds — a top priority of the couple — visiting World War II battlegrounds at home and abroad to mourn those who died in the conflict Japan fought in the name of the Emperor's father.