Big headache for calendar publishers if new emperor’s era name announcement delayed

Kyodo

A group of calendar makers told the government Wednesday they will suffer huge financial losses if the new era name to be adopted after the abdication of Emperor Akihito is not announced before January, saying they will have difficulty moving forward for the following year without it.

The request by the publishers regarding the nengo, or era name, which remains in use for the length of an emperor’s reign, follows Friday’s enactment of a special law to allow the Emperor to hand over the Chrysanthemum throne to Crown Prince Naruhito.

The government envisions December 2018, when the Emperor turns 85 years old, as the possible timing for his abdication, and the era name will likely change at the start of 2019, according to sources close to the matter.

The Japan Calendar Publishers Association says if the new era is not known by this January, billions of yen would be lost each month the announcement is delayed, as publishers will be forced to revise their production schedules, resulting in rising labor costs as well as additional subcontracting expenses.

“We will be in crisis if we do not know the era name (by January) as production and delivery will be delayed. There will be a lot of confusion,” said Yasuhiro Miyazaki, chairman of the association comprised of 30 publishers. Together, the 30 companies annually produce 100 million calendars, or half the total circulated in the nation.

The current reign under Emperor Akihito is named the era of Heisei (“Achieving Peace”), which began in 1989 with 2017 marking the 29th year. Year 1 of the new era starts once Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the throne.

The public holiday to mark the Emperor’s birthday, currently on Dec. 23, will be moved to Feb. 23, the birthday of the Crown Prince.

The era names are widely used in government business and by some media outlets; and many Japanese people associate periods of their lives with the eras.

For the incoming era, the government is set to choose a name that is easy to read and has never been used before. Era names are traditionally composed of two Chinese characters.