Government to present new era name to Emperor and Crown Prince before April 1


Emperor Akihito and Crown Prince Naruhito will be informed of the new Imperial era’s name before it is made public April 1, informed sources said Sunday.

The government thinks it is best to inform them beforehand because Emperor Akihito will sign a decree recognizing the new era name prior to its promulgation and implementation on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the throne, the sources said.

The officials overseeing the process are considering having Prime Minister Shinzo Abe present the name directly to both the Emperor and the Crown Prince once it has been decided on, according to the sources close to Abe.

They will seek advice from the Cabinet Legislation Bureau to set a specific reporting procedure so as not to raise any constitutional questions on how the proceedings are handled, the sources said. The Constitution bans the Emperor from being involved in political affairs.

Under the 1979 Era Name Act, a new era’s name must be stipulated in a government decree.

In determining what the next era will be called, the government will follow the same procedure used in 1989 to decided the Heisei era, according to the sources.

The new name will be adopted at a Cabinet meeting April 1 this year after it is selected. The government will obtain opinions from experts and the heads of both chambers of the Diet to make its decision.

The selection process will not involve the current or the new Emperor. At the time of the 1989 name change from Showa, the government divulged the new Heisei era name to Emperor Akihito through the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency before making it public.

This time, the government decided to announce the new era name a month before the Imperial succession, even though some Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers and the Japan Conference, a Shinto-linked conservative group backing Abe, called for it to be announced after the enthronement.

The idea of reporting the new era name to both the Emperor and the Crown Prince beforehand was devised partly as a response to concerns among conservatives that a prior announcement may defy the tradition of assigning only one era name to each Emperor.