Japan’s new imperial era will be named Reiwa
TOKYO Japan yesterday revealed the name of the era that will define the new emperor's reign when he ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne next month following a historic abdication.
The name consists of two characters: rei, which can have meanings related to "order" but also "auspicious", and wa, usually translated as "peace" or "harmony".
The two kanji characters were unveiled to reveal a name that will last as long as new emperor Naruhito's rule.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the term came from the Manyoshu, an anthology of Japanese poems dating back 1,200 years that "symbolises our nation's profound public culture and long tradition".
The announcement of a new era name is a massive event in Japan, marked with special newspaper editions, calligraphy shows and festivities.
Japan is the only country still using Chinese-style imperial calendars for private and public documents as well as computer records. The new name therefore has a huge impact on daily life and people tend to recall major events by when they fell in a certain era.
A secretive panel whittled down options for the new name in closed-door talks.
The 85-year-old Akihito will be the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in around two centuries when he steps down on April 30 in favour of Crown Prince Naruhito, who will ascend the throne the next day.
Japan is marking the announcement of the new era in a wide variety of ways.
A sake company offered a vintage bottle from the first year of the Heisei era (1989) to anyone who correctly guessed the new name, while a grand hotel is marking the occasion with a 3kg wagyu burger served with gold-dusted buns for US$900 (S$1,200). - AFP
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