A new imperial era in Japan, christened “Reiwa,” is set to begin on May 1 when Crown Prince Naruhito is expected to take the throne.
The name of the new imperial era, symbolising hopes of a new Japan, was announced by Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, in Tokyo on April 1. The two characters that make up the new name, translate roughly to “good fortune” and “peace” or “harmony,” according to The Japan Times.
“We hope [the era name] will be widely accepted by the people and deeply rooted as part of their daily lives,” Mr Suga told reporters.
The curtains will come down on the current “Heisei” era after three decades when the 85-year-old Emperor Akihito steps down on April 30 in the first abdication of the throne in over 200 years.
According to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Reiwa symbolises the beauty of traditional Japanese values. “Our nation is facing up to a big turning point, but there are lots of Japanese values that shouldn’t fade away,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a news conference in explaining the name.
The year 2019 will become the first year of the new era, or Reiwa 1, used on official documents, coins, driver’s licenses and newspapers, by businesses and in everyday life from May 1 in parallel with the Western, or Gregorian, calendar.