Japan names new imperial era beginning May 1 'Reiwa'
Japan's new era beginning May 1 will be named "Reiwa," with Crown Prince Naruhito due to ascend to the throne that day to succeed his father Emperor Akihito, the government said Monday, Kyodo reports.
The era name was chosen because it signifies people joining their hearts to develop Japan's culture, according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.The Japanese leader said the new era name, or "gengo," was adopted from a Japanese classic for the first time in more than 1,300 years of the era system being in use.
The choice reflects the nationalist leanings of Abe's conservative government, observers said. In modern Japan, era names are used for the length of an emperor's reign.
The era name is a matter of huge public interest in Japan as it will be widely used in calendars, newspapers, official documents and certificates including drivers' license.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga held up a work of calligraphy at an announcement press conference showing Reiwa's two Chinese characters. In this context, the first character "rei" means "good" and the second represents "harmony" or "peace." A government source said it was picked from six candidates.
"The name Reiwa means that culture is born and grows when people come together and care for each other beautifully," Abe said.
He said Japan's 248th gengo derived from "Manyoshu," an eighth-century collection of Japanese poetry, is symbolic of the country's rich culture and long tradition. Since Taika, the first gengo which started in 645, all era names with identifiable sources were drawn from Chinese classics.
"We sincerely expect the new era to be widely accepted by the public and deeply rooted in the lives of Japanese people," the premier said, adding he hopes that the new era will be a promising one for young generations.
Neither Abe nor Suga made public who suggested Reiwa and other potential names, citing their wishes and the need to avoid any trouble by specifying who proposed which name.