With Emperor Akihito abdicating on April 30, the Heisei Era that began Jan. 8, 1989, after his father's death will also come to an end. With this column I'd like to look back at some of the noteworthy changes that occurred to Japan's laws and legal institutions during the past three decades.

National flag and anthem

Believe it or not, it was not until the passage of a 1999 statute that Japan's national flag and anthem achieved official legal status.