The Heisei Era, which began in 1989, is about to end with the abdication of Emperor Akihito at the end of April, and prior to that the name of a new era under the reign of the new Emperor is to be announced on April 1. Speculation has been flying over potential names as the day of the announcement comes near. People age 40 or older may recall the scene when then Chief Cabinet Secretary Keizo Obuchi unveiled the name at a news conference more than 30 years ago. “Heisei” was explained as signifying Japan’s will to achieve peace throughout the world.
Discussions on the use of Imperial era names on public documents — whether we should use both the Western calender year (such as 2019) and the Japanese calender year (such as Heisei 31) — have been underway for some time since some people find it rather confusing.