Japanese celebrate 20th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's coronation

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TOKYO – Tens of thousands of well-wishers gathered outside Japan's moat-ringed Imperial Palace — many shouting "Banzai," a traditional wish for long life — to mark Thursday's 20th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's coronation to the world's oldest throne.

Parades, concerts and speeches by leading athletes, actors, businesspeople and politicians marked the festivities that lasted most of the day.

But in unusually somber comments of his own, Akihito appealed for future generations to learn from the war-marred reign of his father, the late Emperor Hirohito.

In a rare news conference before the anniversary, the 75-year-old monarch said he is concerned that Japanese will forget their past.

Japan's Chrysanthemum Throne — the world's oldest hereditary monarchy — has undergone major changes since the country's surrender ended World War II in 1945, when Hirohito was officially considered a living god and loyalty to the throne was used to rally the nation behind the war.

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