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Name of the Japanese Emperor’s new era delayed until next year

The Japanese Government are considering announcing the name of the new era in Japan next February or later, due to concerns about the process of succession following Emperor Akihito’s abdication.

The announcement of the gengo era name, which will be used when the Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds to the Chrysanthemum Throne on the 1 May this year, will likely come after the ceremony marking Emperor Akihito’s 30th year of his reign which will be held on 24 February next year, a Japanese government source has said.

The arrangement is expected to help solve concerns that unveiling the era name before Emperor Akihito’s 30-year ceremony would create a situation of dual authority between the old and new emperors, the source said.

The government had previously considered unveiling the new era name in the latter half of this year and having sufficient time before the succession in order to minimize the impact on government services and public lives.

“It is not good to have a situation where the public think there are two era names. It would be favourable if the time between the announcement of the new era name and the actual change is short,” said a source close to the prime minister’s office.

A ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker also noted that announcing the new era name before the 30-year ceremony “could rain on the celebratory mood.”

In modern Japan, an era name lasts for the length of an emperor’s reign and is widely used in calendars and official documents along with the Gregorian calendar.

The current Heisei era, which means “achieving peace,” began on 8 January 1989, the day after Emperor Showa, the father of the current emperor, Akihito, passed away.

For the incoming new era, the Japanese government is set to choose a name that is both easy to read and which has never been used before. Era names are traditionally composed of two Chinese characters.