What you should know about Japan today: era change

Emperor Akihito of Japan abdicated on 30 April 2019, succeeded by his elder son Naruhito.

A new emperor will always use a new era name (年号 nengō). Until 30 April 2019 the era name was 平成 Heisei. As Japan has now passed into 1 May at 00:00 (30 April 18:00 for Central Europe), the era name is now 令和 Reiwa.

Yoshihide Suga (Chief Cabinet Secretary) announced the new era name on 1 April. The cabinet selected the name from a shortlist submitted by an expert panel. (Government of Japan, CC-BY 4.0)

In Japan, people always use era names to count years. The Heisei era had been in use since Emperor Akihito’s reign started in 1989 (Heisei 1). The year 2018 was Heisei 30. Era names are important not only for practical purposes; they also have strong social, cultural and emotional significance for people in Japan.

This year (2019) is therefore known in Japan as “Reiwa 1” from 1 May onwards. (Until 30 April, the year was “Heisei 31”.)

More about Japan! Did you know Japan is hosting the Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships this summer? You can also join the spectator races!

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