Japan’s Emperor Akihito to become the first to abdicate in two centuries

23-Jan-2019 Intellasia | AP | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Japan’s prime minister confirmed in his New Year’s news conference that the era name for the new emperor’s reign will be disclosed on April 1.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe said that 2019 will mark pivotal times for Japan, repeatedly referring to Emperor Akihito’s stepping down.

* Era names

Akihito has chosen to buck tradition and abdicate while he is alive, citing frail health. His son becomes emperor May 1.

Era names are important as they are needed to determine what year it is in the traditional Japanese calendar.

* Tradition & modernisation

The great public attention the rituals surrounding the new emperor’s arrival have drawn highlights how steeped in tradition Japan remains, despite modernisation.

Japan’s Emperor Akihito with Empress Michiko

Akihito’s waving earlier this week from the palace balcony drew a crowd of more than 150,000 people, a record for Akihito.

* Historic year for Japan

Abe stressed that 2019 will be a historic year for Japan, noting the Year of the Boar in the Asian zodiac heralds a year of determination.

* What is Heisei?

“We hope to mark a strong start for the era,” Abe told, standing before a golden screen next to a curvaceous bonsai pine tree.

“We will show speed and flexibility like a boar.” The era under Akihito is called Heisei, which translates to “achieving peace.” Abe said the details of how the new name will be announced are still being worked out.

* First living emperor to give up the throne

Hesei started January 8, 1989, the day after Emperor Hirohito died.

Akihito is the first living emperor to give up the throne in two centuries.



Category: Japan

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