Japan's Govt. Chooses 'reiwa' As New Era Name

Japan's govt. chooses  'Reiwa' as new era name

"Reiwa" is a name that will be on the lips of most Japanese today and it will be for years to come. It's the name the Japanese government has selected for the new era which is set to start when Crown Prince Naruhito becomes the new Emperor on May 1.

The announcement was highly anticipated here because it will define the years ahead, as well as play a daily role in people's lives.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, "We'll work towards getting the new era name widely accepted and deeply rooted in the lives of the Japanese people."

Suga says the new name was taken from Manyoshu, the oldest existing anthology of Japanese poetry.

It comes from a passage that can be translated as:
"In early spring, the air is fresh and the wind is calm. The plum flowers are blooming like a beautiful woman applying white powder in front of the mirror. And the fragrance of flowers is like that of robes scented with incense."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the name represents the hope that every Japanese person will achieve their aspirations just like a plum flower flourishing after a severe winter.

He said, "Culture is nurtured when people beautifully bring their hearts together. REIWA has that meaning."

The government chose the new era name after going through numerous steps including discussions with an expert panel and heads of both houses of the Diet.

NHK has learned that the government submitted six name proposals to the experts. The final decision was made by all ministers in a Cabinet meeting.

Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30 which will end the current "Heisei" era.

The government is announcing the new name in advance so companies and the general public can prepare for the change.

The era name is used on numerous occasions and official papers including drivers' licenses, health insurance cards, and calendars.

It will be the first time the character, "rei," is used in an era name. The second, "wa," has been used 19 previous times.