WATCH: Japan says name for new era of Naruhito will be 'Reiwa'

2019-04-01 06:43

The name of the era of Japan's soon-to-be-emperor Naruhito will be "Reiwa", the government announced on Monday.

Emperor Akihito is stepping down on April 30, in the first abdication in 200 years, bringing his era of "Heisei" to an end. The new era takes effect on May 1.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday the name draws from the 7th century poetry collection "Manyoshu".

Suga said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would explain the meaning of the name later at a news conference.

It is believed to be the first time the era name, or "gengo" has been taken from a Japanese document, a break from more than 1 300 years of using Chinese classics.

'New era brimming with hope'

The new era's name was kept strictly secret ahead of Monday's announcement.

"We hope (the era name) will be widely accepted by the people and deeply rooted as part of their daily lives," Suga told reporters showing the name, written in two Chinese characters in black ink calligraphy on a white background.

Abe said earlier that he hoped the name would "lead to a new era brimming with hope".

The announcement allows only a month ahead of the switch for government, businesses and other sectors to adjust to the change that still affects many parts of Japan's society, even though the system is not compulsory and the emperor has no political power under Japan's post-war constitution.

Under the 1979 era name law, Abe appointed a panel of experts on classical Chinese and Japanese literature to nominate two to five names for top officials to choose from.

The names had to meet strict criteria, being easy to read and write but not commonly or previously used for an era name.

Japanese media scrambled to get scoops out of a new era name. Rumors included "Ankyu", which uses the same Chinese character as in Abe's family name.

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