New Japan imperial era to be named Reiwa

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga unveils the new era name “Reiwa” at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, April 1, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s new imperial era to begin on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor, will be called Reiwa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced on Monday, adding that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would explain its meaning shortly in a national address.

The era name, or “gengo,” is used widely in Japan – on coins, calendars, newspapers and in official paperwork. Although use of the Western calendar has become widespread, many Japanese count years by gengo or use the two systems interchangeably.

Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne will come a day after his father, Emperor Akihito, abdicates on April 30, ending the Heisei era, which began in 1989. Akihito will be the first emperor to abdicate in Japan in over two centuries.

Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim

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