In a much-awaited moment that heralded a new chapter in Japan’s history, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced April 1 that the new Imperial era will be named Reiwa, taking one of the final steps toward initiating the nation’s first Imperial succession in three decades.
Suga, who displayed a placard showing the kanji for the new era, said the name was formulated based on a poem from Manyoshu, the oldest existing compilation of Japanese poetry.
The first character represents “good fortune,” while the second can be translated as “peace” or “harmony.”
This is the first time for the kanji of a new era to be taken from Japanese classical literature. Prior era names had used kanji from Chinese literature.
The poem in question described an ume Japanese apricot flower in full bloom in early spring after surviving a cold winter.
The new era will start on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne following the abdication of his father, Emperor Akihito, a day earlier.
The arrival of the Reiwa Era will in turn end more than 30 years of the Heisei (“achieving peace”) Era, which began in Jan. 8, 1989. (The Japan Times)