令和-Reiwa- New Imperial Era in Japan
Japanese government announced on April 1st that Japan will change imperial era from 平成(Heisei) to 令和(Reiwa).
New era will start from one month later, May. In other words. current Japanese emperor gives way to his son and new emperor will be born. This is very big event in Japan. I would like to write about imperial era.
What is 元号（Gengou）– Imperial era?
元号 means imperial era. There were hundreds of imperial era so far in Japan. In this 150 years, we had 慶応(Keiou) 明治（Meiji）大正(Taisho) 昭和（Showa）平成(Heisei). I think there are not so many countries using imperial era. If I am not wrong, Thailand and Taiwan use their own era, how to count year.
In Japan we have emperor from old ages. Then we set rule that one emperor has one imperial era. If one emperor dies, the era ends and new emperor stars new era. That is usual rule.
However, this time is UNUSUAL. Current emperor is still alive and he will give his position to his son. Usually, imperial era is made from two Chinese Characters.
What is meaning of Reiwa?
You may think what Reiwa means. Japanese government explained Reiwa means “人々が美しく心を寄せ合う中で、文化が生まれ育つという”. In English, culture is born and nurtured as the people’s hearts are beautifully drawn together. If you see one kanji by kanji, 令(Rei) means “fine, clean and pure and Auspicious etc.” and 和(Wa) means “peace, harmony etc”. Actually, we do not have 令和 as word now but government makes this word by picking up two Chinese Characters from 万葉集(Manyoushuu), Japan’s oldest collection of poetry.
Impact of changing
Officially, we need to use imperial era name on public document such as legal document, newspaper, official report and certificate/license published by government. Also, system needs to be revised. That means it cost a lot to print again these materials and change system.
That is one of reason some people think imperial era name should be abolished.
Who selects new imperial era?
9 selected and famous persons chosen new era name from 6 candidates.
9 persons are writer, nobel prized scientist, university professor, ex-chief head in court etc.
One of them commented “Reiwa is most popular among 6 candidates”.
It’s top secret and not disclosed who originally made this Reiwa and who agrees this among 9 persons.
How do Japanese people think about new era name?
According to survey, 64% think “welcome”, 28% “not good” and 8% “don’ know, no interest”.
In my opinion, as I live out of Japan now, anno domini only is better and simple. Sometimes I forgot which era is which anno domini.
I think younger generation also think same as me. They are less interested in social customs and tradition than older generation.
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