Japan celebrates Emperor Akihito's birthday before his abdication

Japanese Emperor Akihito celebrated his 85th birthday on Sunday and delivered a speech to those who gathered outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to wish him well ahead of his abdication next year.

Akihito is set to stand down next April after reigning for 30 years.

"I feel so grateful to be celebrated by every one of you," Akihito said.

"Once again this year sadly lots of disasters happened in lots of places (in Japan.) Lots of people passed away and were troubled because of these disasters. I’m thinking about these people who have lost family members and friends and people who are in a difficult condition themselves," he added.