On May 1, the new imperial era of Japan will begin as Crown Prince Naruhito becomes the emperor. On Monday, the government announced that the new era will be called Reiwa and added that the meaning of “Reiwa” will be explained by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a national address.
In Japan, the era name or “gengo” is widely used in newspapers, coins, calendars as well as in official paperwork. Though the Western calendar is used worldwide nowadays Japnese use the two systems interchangeably.
Emperor Akihito the father of Naruhito and the current ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne is going to abdicate his Heisei era on April 30, which began in 1989. The next day of his abdication his son will take the responsibility. Akihito will be the first emperor to resign in Japan in over two centuries.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced it one month earlier so that the government offices and companies can update their computer software and can make other preparations in advance for the smooth flow of the system from the next month.
Scholars and bureaucrats had drawn up a list of candidates, and the cabinet made the final decision after consulting an advisory panel. This time the characters have been selected from the Manyoshu which is an ancient of Japanese poetry.
In the modern history of Japan, there have been four era names, Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), Showa (1926-1989) and the current Heisei, meaning “achieving peace”.
The programmers have designed several computer programmes to make easy the process of changing gengo. The gengo system was imported from China centuries ago but the era name is more than just a way of counting years.
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