• Kyodo


The government said Friday it will announce the name of Japan’s forthcoming new era at 11:30 a.m. Monday, and that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a statement on the decision from noon.

The announcement will come a month before the new era, the 248th in Japan’s history, starts on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds to the throne following Emperor Akihito’s abdication the previous day.

Top government spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Friday that he will announce the name the Cabinet decides.

“The prime minister will convey the meaning of the new era name and his message directly to the public,” he added, referring to the statement Abe will read out.

A gengō (era name) is used for the length of an emperor’s reign and a change of era is an important event as the name is widely used in minting coins and producing calendars and official documents among other purposes. The Gregorian calendar is also widely used in the country.

Suga had said earlier that on March 14 the government officially asked experts in such fields as Japanese literature, Chinese literature, Japanese history and East Asian history to come up with era-name proposals.

On Monday morning, the government will present a shortlist of candidates to a panel of representatives from business, academia and media organizations to hear their opinions. It will also gather input from leaders and deputy leaders of both Diet chambers, before the Cabinet approves an ordinance to introduce the new name.

Suga said the government will announce the panel members the same morning. Kyoto University’s Shinya Yamanaka, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2012 for developing iPS cells, and novelist Mariko Hayashi are among candidates to be panel members, according to sources close to the matter.

Also on Friday, Abe visited the Imperial Palace to meet with the Emperor. The outcome of the one-on-one meeting will not be disclosed, but the prime minister is believed to have explained how the new era name will be determined on Monday.

The 85-year-old Emperor expressed his wish to retire in a rare video message in 2016, citing his concern that he might not be able to fulfill his official duties due to his advanced age. In the following year, the Diet enacted one-off legislation to enable him to abdicate. He will be the first Japanese monarch to do so in around 200 years.

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