National / Politics

Suga to whittle down Japan era name candidates on April 1, with Cabinet's final decision later in day

JIJI

The government plans to narrow down a list of candidates for the new era name on April 1, the same day it will pick and announce the next era name, government sources said Monday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will pick around three new era name candidates from the some 20 to 30 proposals to be submitted by scholars commissioned by the government, the sources said.

Soon after hearing opinions from a panel of experts and the heads and deputy heads of both chambers of the Diet, the government will make its final selection at a Cabinet meeting, the sources said.

The government will follow procedures used to select the current era name of Heisei in 1989 when deciding on a name for the next era.

On March 14, the government officially commissioned a few specialists in Japanese and Chinese literature and Japanese and Asian history to make proposals for the new era name.

The scholars are expected to propose two to five names each, along with their meanings and detailed information on their sources.

Suga will pick the candidate names after hearing opinions from Yusuke Yokobatake, director-general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau.

He is set to make the selection just before a Cabinet decision on the name of the next era, apparently in order to reduce the risk of information leaks, sources familiar with the situation said.

The government has no plans to disclose the creator of the new era name for the time being.

Suga told a news conference Monday that the commissioned scholars do not want their names disclosed. If their names were announced, speculation would grow over who made which proposals, a situation that does not seem appropriate, Suga said.

Japan’s first era name is believed to be Taika, used between 645 and 650. The new era name will be the 248th.

After the new name is decided at a Cabinet meeting on April 1, it will be implemented on May 1 in line with the enthronement of Crown Prince Naruhito following the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito, on April 30.