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International Relations

Japan Starts a New Era

Japan Starts a New Era


  • GS 2 ||International Relations|| India & Rest of the World || Japan

Why in news ?

  • Japan recently declared that Reiwa would be name of the new imperial era to begin on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne.
  • He will succeed his father, Emperor Akihito, who is abdicating on April 30, ending the 31-year Heisei era.

What is the meaning of reiwa ?

  • The name consists of two characters.
  • The first character in the name means “order” or “command”, while the second means “peace” or “harmony“


  • 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 “Reiwa” takes effect May 1.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the term “Reiwa” came from the “Manyoshu”, an anthology of Japanese poems dating back 1,200 years that “symbolises nation’s profound public culture and long tradition”.
  • 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.
  • While a growing number of Japanese prefer the Western calendar over the Japanese system in a highly digitalized and globalized society, the era name is still widely used in government and business documents. Elders often use it to identify their generations.

How will the new era affect everyday life in japan?

  • While Japan uses the western Gregorian calendar, the country also denotes the year by using the name of the current imperial era.
  • Therefore, when Reiwa officially begins on Wednesday 1 May, 2019 will also become known as “Reiwa 1”.
  • The era name will be used on official documents, coins, calendars and newspapers.