Japan to announce new era name on April 1

Cherry blossoms in almost full bloom in Tokyo

Cherry blossoms in almost full bloom in Tokyo

  |  EPA

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday that the government will officially unveil the name of Japan's new era at 11:30 a.m. local time (0230 GMT) on April 1.

The current era is named "Heisei," meaning "achieving peace".

Suga said the government will on Monday morning heed the opinions from a panel of representatives from business, academia and media organizations, as well as from leaders and deputy leaders of both Diet chambers, before holding a Cabinet meeting to approve an ordinance to introduce the new era name.

After that, Suga will unveil the "gengo", or new era name, and explain how the government reached the decision. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will then make a separate statement on the decision at noon, according to Suga.

"The prime minister will convey the meaning of the new gengo and his message directly to the public," Suga said.

The announcement will be made exactly a month before the new era begins on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito is expected to accede to the throne after his father Emperor Akihito formally abdicates on April 30.

Earlier this month, the Japanese government asked experts in the fields of Japanese literature, Chinese literature, Japanese history and East Asian history to make proposals on new era names. Also on Friday, Abe paid a visit to the Imperial Palace and held a one-on-one meeting with the emperor.

The content of the meeting will not be disclosed, but local media generally believed that Abe explained during their meeting how the new gengo will be determined on April 1. Emperor Akihito, 85, was enthroned on Jan. 7, 1989.

In a rare nationally-televised address in August 2016, he expressed his desire to relinquish his duties as emperor over concerns about his age, health and ability to carry out his formal duties.