The name of the era of Japan’s soon-to-be-emperor Naruhito will be “Reiwa,” the government announced Monday. Emperor Akihito is stepping down on April 30, in the first abdication in 200 years, bringing his era of “Heisei” to an end. The new era takes effect May 1.
The name draws from the 7th century poetry collection “Manyoshu,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after the announcement by the chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga. Abe said the name means that culture is born and nurtured as the people “beautifully care about each other.”
“With this selection of a new era name, I renew my commitment to pioneer a new era that will be filled with hope,” Abe said. The Manyoshu is Japan’s oldest poetry collection and symbolizes Japan’s rich culture and long tradition, he said.
The choice was a break from more than 1,300 years of drawing era names, or “gengo” from using Chinese classics. It was kept strictly secret ahead of Monday’s announcement.
“We hope (the era name) will be widely accepted by the people and deeply rooted as part of their daily lives,” Suga told reporters in first announcing the name, written in two Chinese characters in black ink calligraphy on a white background.
The announcement allows only a month ahead of the switch for government, businesses and other sectors to adjust to the change that still affects many parts of Japan’s society, even though the system is not compulsory and the emperor has no political power under Japan’s postwar constitution.