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Foreign Ministry may go Gregorian, dropping use of Japan era names in documents when it can

JIJI

With the upcoming Imperial era name change, the Foreign Ministry is considering scrapping the use of the era name for calendar years in some of its official documents and switching to the Gregorian calendar, according to informed sources.

The new era name, Reiwa, will succeed the current Heisei when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, after his father, Emperor Akihito, abdicates on April 30.

While the ministry will keep using the Japanese era calendar in documents, including those that are budget-related, that require consistency with papers of other ministries, it plans to promote the use of the Gregorian calendar for documents without such restrictions.

On Monday, a senior Foreign Ministry official said use of the Japanese era calendar may be confusing to other countries.

The ministry has started sorting out types of documents that it seems would be acceptable to use with the Gregorian calendar, according to the sources.

At a news conference Friday, Foreign Minister Taro Kono pointed to the complexity of calculations needed when converting years between the two era systems.

“We’ll make efforts so that there’ll be no mistakes when we go back and forth between the Christian and Japanese era systems,” Kono added.

Meanwhile, Koichi Hagiuda, the Liberal Democratic Party’s executive acting secretary-general, said Tuesday that ministries should use the era name in official documents, especially those used within the country.