Japan's Emperor Akihito draws record numbers for farewell New Year's speech

Japan's Emperor Akihito and his successor, Crown Prince Naruhito wave to the crowd during the emperor's New Year's greeting ceremony.

Tokyo (CNN)Japan's emperor drew record numbers of well-wishers to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for his annual New Years' speech -- his last before he abdicates in April.

The Imperial Household Agency told CNN that the number of well-wishers exceeded 140,000 for Emperor Akihito's New Year address to the public, which takes place every year on January 2, breaking the former record, set last year with 126,720 people.
"Happy New Year. I am truly delighted to celebrate the New Year with you all under (this) clear sky," he told the raucous, cheering crowds, many of whom waved Japanese flags and yelled "Banzai" -- the Japanese equivalent of "three cheers."
    Japan's Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and members of the royal family wave to the crowd during the New Year's greeting ceremony.
    He was accompanied by his wife, Empress Michiko, and children, including his successor, Crown Prince Naruhito.
    Following his remarks the family stood on the balcony and waved at the massed crowd. Aerial shots showed a mass of humanity leaving the central Tokyo palace following the speech.
    Well-wishers wave Japan's national flags during the greetings.
    "I hope this year will be a good year for as many people as possible. At the beginning