Announcement of New Era: "Reiwa" - 1 April 2019

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Suga: New era name Reiwa comes from Japanese poetry anthology 'Manyoshu' - The Mainichi
[...] The top government spokesman said the name is derived from the "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry.


Following Suga's announcement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe provided an explanation to reporters about the naming of the new era name.

"For the first time in history, we based our era name on Japanese literature," Abe said, adding that the "Manyoshu," which dates back more than 1,200 years, contains poems made by people regardless of their standing, and represents Japan's rich national culture and long history.


"We have decided the new name to be Reiwa in the hope that Japan will be a country where people can fulfill their wishes for the future and achieve success like plum flowers that bloom after the severe cold," Abe said.

Japan names new imperial era beginning May 1 "Reiwa" - Kyodo News+

The new era name is comprised of two Chinese characters meaning "good" and "harmony" or "peace" derived from Japanese classic Manyoshu, an eighth-century collection of Japanese poetry, Suga said at a press conference. Japan's era names traditionally came from Chinese classics.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later explained Reiwa signifies "a culture being born and nurtured by people coming together beautifully."


In the morning, the government convened a panel of representatives from business, academia and media organizations to exchange views on candidate era names on a shortlist, before hearing opinions from leaders and deputy leaders of both Diet chambers.

The nine members of the panel included Sadayuki Sakakibara, former chairman of the Japan Business Federation, Kyoto University professor Shinya Yamanaka, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2012 for developing so-called induced pluripotent stem cells, and Japanese award-winning novelist Mariko Hayashi.

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Interesting and nice to hear of the meaning behind the new era's name.
Japan says name of new era Reiwa translates as 'beautiful harmony' - The Mainichi
Japan has been explaining to other countries that the name of the new imperial era Reiwa to be used from May 1 connotes "beautiful harmony" in English, government officials said Tuesday, amid some confusion over the meaning.
Japan's Foreign Ministry notified embassies by fax:

Reaction from a Japanese reporter in New York:

The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) was hugely amused and saw 70% of their web traffic come from Japan on April 1st.

Many are also amused because the 18th year of Reiwa can be shortened as r18 which is Japan's largest p*rn website

(the era is frequently abbreviated as letter+number on links, documents, etc. example: Heisei 31 = H31 or h31)


Gov't source admits Japanese literature expert Susumu Nakanishi proposed new era name - The Mainichi
Yet Nakanishi declined to say whether he came up with Reiwa as a new era name candidate. "There's nothing I can tell you about that," Nakanishi, 89, told reporters in front of his home in Kyoto on April 2.
Sign for new era name 'Reiwa' in Japanese sign language revealed - The Mainichi (includes photos of the signs)
The National Center of Sign Language Education unveiled the nationally standardized sign for Japan's new Imperial era name "Reiwa" on April 2.

According to the Kyoto-based social welfare corporation, the speaker is supposed to gather their fingertips with their palm facing upward in front of their bodies, and then move their hand forward while slowly spreading their fingers. It can be performed with either the right or left hand. The sign envisages an image of a flower bud blooming toward the future, according to the center.

Japanese coins engraved with new era name 'Reiwa' likely to debut after summer - The Mainichi
[...] The Japan Mint here has started to create metallic stamps to press "Reiwa Gannen," meaning the first year of Reiwa, on coins and the work will take two to three months to complete.

The mint plans to give priority to 500 and 100 yen coins as they are circulated on a mass scale. All six kinds of Japanese coins freshly engraved with the new era name are expected to be publicly circulated from around October. [...]
5 other candidates in era name shortlist revealed - The Mainichi
[...] The other five were "Eiko," "Kyuka," "Koshi," "Banna," and "Banpo."

According to the source, Eiko comes from Japanese literature, while Koshi is derived from China's oldest poetry anthology, the "Classic of Poetry," but also can be traced to Japanese works.

Both Banna and Banpo are based on Chinese classics, with Banna having two separate sources.

Altogether, three of the six shortlists come from Chinese classics and the remaining three from Japanese literature.

More info on 4 name candidates at 4 era names the gov't rejected before deciding on Reiwa - Japan Today
1. Eiko
英 has a number of meanings, including “beautiful,” “glorious,” and even “flower.” 弘, meanwhile, means “wide” or “vast,” which would have made the purported hope that the Eiko period would be one of “vast glory.”

2. [...] Banwa or Banna, its first kanji, 万, literally means “10,000,” but is also used to signify “great,” “complete,” or “encompassing.” 和, meanwhile, is the same 和 that shows up as the second kanji of Reiwa, making Banwa/Banna “great peace” or “perfect harmony.”

3. Banho/Banbo
万 shows up once again, this time paired with 保, which means “preservation” or “security,” for an air of “great security” or “complete safety.”

4. Koshi/Koji
The first kanji, 広, once again means “wide” or “vast” (it’s the more common version of the alternate 弘 seen in Eiko), while 至 can mean “destination,” “high” or “extreme.” This makes Koshi/Koji the most abstract in meaning of the final-round cuts, but the overall effect is something akin to “great arrival,” an ambitious, if vague, sentiment for the next chapter in Japan’s history.

How Japan's new imperial era broke the internet in a very tiny way | TechCrunch
Emperor Akihito of Japan is abdicating and passing the office to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, and as part of the transition comes a new gengo, or era name: “Reiwa.” It’s loaded with meaning and subtext, but because of the way text is sent and displayed over the internet, the name can’t actually be displayed in a certain official way. Unicode has issued an update making it possible, but for now there’s just no character for Reiwa. It’s a strange little problem that will be fixed soon, but illustrates how the systems we rely on aren’t perfect.

Now, to be clear, you can definitely type out the kanji for it, 令和, and that’s totally fine (though there are some technical hiccups there too). But gengo get combined single characters for certain situations and contexts. For comparison, the current (soon to be former) era, Heisei, can be written 平成 but has a combined-character name as well: ㍻. Sure, it’s just the two pieces squished together, but they’re squished together in an important, official way.


The only thing Unicode is really able to do is reserve the space for the incoming character and give it a placeholder graphic showing its code: ㋿. (What you see in the box, assuming you view this before the character is added, is “32FF,” part of the code.)

In a way, that’s all Unicode needs to do; it’s now up to designers to put together the actual character as it will be displayed in their font. And those updates will have to go out to servers and devices individually. But that can’t be done instantly, of course — and in the meantime any headline online with the new name in it by definition can’t show it! It’s a fascinating little quandary.

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Interesting to see that other commenters on Twitter are expressing concerns about the nuances of the new era name. I was beginning to think I was reading too much into it, but apparently not.

I do think the r18 issue is rather funny, and shows that no matter how much thought is given to something, there inevitably are details that get overlooked. No doubt by the time 18 years pass, r18 will no longer be associated with a p*rn site; one can only hope!

I like some of the other options better, since they seem on the surface to be less problematical. It would be interesting to know why they were rejected.

Also, the sign for the Reiwa era sounds lovely.
Interesting and nice to hear of the meaning behind the new era's name.

Prisma posted more information on the alternative (and potentially political) subtexts of the new name here:

5 other candidates in era name shortlist revealed - The Mainichi

[...] The other five were "Eiko," "Kyuka," "Koshi," "Banna," and "Banpo."

According to the source, Eiko comes from Japanese literature, while Koshi is derived from China's oldest poetry anthology, the "Classic of Poetry," but also can be traced to Japanese works.

Both Banna and Banpo are based on Chinese classics, with Banna having two separate sources.


Among the latter group, Reiwa is derived from "Manyoshu," the oldest Japanese poetry anthology, while the other two are based on the "Chronicles of Japan" (Nihon Shoki) and the "Records of Ancient Matters" (Kojiki) [...]

Really?! "Koshi" was an option? The characters are different but that sounds similar to Prince Akishino's new title in Japanese. :ohmy:

広至 -> era name Koshi
皇嗣 -> new Kōshi title for Prince Akishino

Tatiana Maria, Ista: reaction in Japan seems mostly favorable. Yes, nationalistic sentiments has been noted, along with the government getting a name from a Japanese classic rather than a Chinese classic.

'Manyoshu': Know the Poetry Collection Where Japan’s New Era Name Comes From | JAPAN Forward

[...] The English translation of the preface goes thus: “It is now the choice month of early spring, the weather is fine, the wind is soft. The plum blossom opens…”

In the original text, the words “choice month” (reigetsu, 令月) and “soft wind” (kaze odayaka, 風和 ) are the key influences, and by combining the characters 令 and 和, the era name Reiwa (令和) was created.

Commentators have also pointed out that 令 refers to the month of February, which is the birth month of Crown Prince Naruhito [...]

Some quotes and chaos from yesterday

Japanese public welcomes 'Reiwa' as new era name - The Mainichi

"I'm glad there is the 'wa' character of 'heiwa' (the Japanese word for peace) included," said Masane Kudaka [...]

"There were many natural disasters during the Heisei era so I hope the coming years will be as good as the kanji character for 'wa' signifies," [Takako Miyasato] said.


"The kanji character for 'rei' is nice," [Rika Nozawa] said.


"The impression is cold. An era name, at least, should give a more gentle impression," said one.

Suspense novelist Kaoru Takamura said the character for "rei," which is also used to form a word meaning "to order," reminds people more of control and regulation, and by combining it with "wa" meaning harmony, the era name could be interpreted as "controlling people to harmonize."

"The sound of 'rei' gives off a cold impression, and does not carry a positive image..."


Meanwhile, people with the same name or names that use the same kanji characters as Reiwa expressed surprise.

"I was watching TV and I wondered why they were showing my name," said 80-year-old Yoshikazu Nakanishi, an Akashi city resident whose name is written exactly the same way as the new era. [...]

Public reacts to era name, shares hopes, dreams going forward: The Asahi Shimbun

“It’s a good name, partly meaning peace,” said [Tomoya Hatano] [...] “As the Tokyo Olympics and Osaka Expo will be held in the near future, I want it to become an era for us to hold harmony with the world in high regard."

[...] “It sounds somewhat stiff, in my opinion,” said [Yu] Takada. “It’s hard to understand the meaning. I wish the name were more personable.”

Japanese excited as new era name 'Reiwa' revealed - The Mainichi
Osaka's central train station was swamped with hundreds of passersby hoping to get a copy of a newspaper extra with the headline "New era name is Reiwa" for posterity. An ambulance arrived after several people including children and elderly were knocked down in the scramble.

Crown prince nods when learning new era name prepared for his reign - The Mainichi
Crown Prince Naruhito nodded with a gentle smile when he learned Monday that the government had picked "Reiwa" [...]

"I understand," he was quoted as telling Yasuhiko Nishimura, the vice grand steward of the agency who explained the new era name to the crown prince prior to the announcement made to the public before noon.


The 85-year-old emperor looked calm as usual when he heard about the two Chinese characters that will replace the current era name, Heisei, according to the agency's Grand Steward Shinichiro Yamamoto. [...]

'Reiwa' era name announcement draws plaudits, mountains of internet mentions
Some 64 percent of respondents to an online poll by internet search portal Yahoo! Japan approve of the next "Reiwa" era name [...]

As of just before noon on April 2, some 213,325 votes had been cast in the survey, with 64.3 percent in favor of the next era name. Some 28 percent said they did not think it was a good choice, with 8 percent stating they did not know or were indifferent.

[...] The survey will run until April 11. [...]

Foreign media focus on break in tradition in picking Japan's era names - The Mainichi
[...] "The break from 1,400 years of drawing era names from Chinese classics was expected from Abe's conservative government, which is often hawkish toward China," the Associated Press said in a dispatch from Tokyo.

Under the headline, "Japan snubs China at dawn of new imperial era," British newspaper The Times reported the selection of "Reiwa" for the new era "reflects the nationalist pride of its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and its tense relations with China."


The New York Times quoted Ken Ruoff, a professor of history at Portland State University, as saying Abe made an "unquestionably significant" choice by selecting an era name, or "gengo," from Japanese literature.

"He went out of his way to emphasize that this is Japanese tradition," Ruoff, an expert on the Japanese imperial system, was quoted as saying.


Political parties back new era name Reiwa, but some question use of character for 'rei' - The Mainichi

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi received a phone call from Abe soon after Suga announced the new era name. On March 28 [...] Abe had told Yamaguchi, "I want to make the (next) era one in which hopes and dreams bloom brilliantly." When Yamaguchi was asked by reporters whether he thought this provided a clue for the new era name, he responded, "Thinking about it now, I may be able to find common meanings."

[...] some received the character for "rei" less enthusiastically. Yamaguchi himself commented, "I thought it was a little unusual. I was a bit surprised." Former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, meanwhile, commented, "Everyone was like 'What?' when they saw it was the 'rei' from 'meirei' (order)." Another LDP executive commented, "It sounds a little cold."

Social Democratic Party leader Seiji Mataichi was even more critical of the use of the character than Ishiba. "You can't deny the feeling that it indicates a strengthening of discipline and control of the people, which the Abe administration is aiming for. I strongly request that the use of the new era name does not become mandatory," he said.


Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party, told reporters, "An era name is not something that fits in with the sovereignty of the people under the Constitution, but we do not oppose the public using it customarily."


Given the Abe administration's success at firming up the Prime Minister's control over the media, the civil service, and so forth, the comments from some critics that the name reminds them of controlling and disciplining the people might not be unwelcome in his eyes. ;) I'm sure the break with China will be popular with his supporters as well.

Interesting to see that other commenters on Twitter are expressing concerns about the nuances of the new era name. I was beginning to think I was reading too much into it, but apparently not.

Indeed, it's interesting that PM Abe seemingly decided to leave his fingerprints on the name of an era which will hopefully endure for many years after his last term in office and will be the posthumous name of an emperor who I suspect would not be an Abe supporter if he were a private citizen. I admit that it is probably only a soft nuance and not a strong one, seeing as a large majority in the polls, and not only Abe voters, perceive the name positively.
Reiwa era name rekindles fervent interest in 'Manyoshu' ancient Japanese poetry - The Mainichi

The day after the April 1 Reiwa announcement, staff at Kinokuniya Co.'s giant bookshop in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward piled a wagon near the cash registers high with copies of the "Manyoshu" -- literally "collection of ten thousand leaves." The shop had laid in emergency orders of the books after the announcement and details of the era name's sourcing emerged.

The move paid off, with some of the volumes sold out by early evening on April 2. Even the Kinokuniya staffer in charge of the emergency "Manyoshu" measures was surprised at the pace of sales.


Jimbocho Book Center, one of many bookshops clustered in Tokyo's Jimbocho neighborhood, had already set up a section devoted to publications on the soon-to-end Heisei era and the Imperial Family ahead of the Reiwa announcement. However, the staff quickly stocked the eye-level shelves with a selection of "Manyoshu"-related texts. One of the shop's local competitors told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We'd like to set up a ("Manyoshu") corner, but we're out of stock."


Meanwhile, the Takaoka Manyo Historical Museum in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture -- where 8th century statesman and waka poet Otomo no Yakamochi spent five years as provincial governor -- has been flooded with inquiries since the Reiwa announcement. According to Hideo Shintani, the museum's head curator, "it was the biggest panic we've seen since we opened in Heisei 2 (1990)."


Kokugakuin University professor emeritus of literature Masaaki Tatsumi commented [...] "I would like people to look at the context and background to the poem foreword that Reiwa was drawn from. Then they will see that the kanji character 'rei' is not intended to mean 'admonition' or 'order.'"
Secrecy hallmark of process to select name of new imperial era: The Asahi Shimbun

The nine individuals who convened from 9:30 a.m. to discuss the candidate names not only turned over their mobile phones before the start of the meeting, but also had to return documents distributed ahead of an explanation given by Kazuhiro Sugita, a deputy chief Cabinet secretary.

The meeting lasted about 40 minutes, and the participants were required to remain in a room at the prime minister's office [...]

The panel members were allowed to leave around noon after Suga announced the era name.


Once the committee meeting wound up, Suga visited the official residence of the Lower House speaker to discuss the issue with the heads and deputy heads of the two Diet chambers.

During those discussions, Lower House Vice Speaker Hirotaka Akamatsu expressed displeasure at being asked beforehand to cooperate in maintaining a veil of secrecy over the new name until the official announcement. He asked for a retraction of the request on grounds it would set a bad precedent.

Suga apologized and retracted the request.

Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima intervened and the four lawmakers did not have to turn over their mobile phones. To make it easier to isolate the four from the outside world, they were asked to dine together at Oshima's official residence, thereby ensuring secrecy would be maintained.

Over 70% approve of Japan's new imperial era name: Kyodo poll - The Mainichi
Nearly 74 percent of voters approve of Japan's new era name, Reiwa, to be used for the next emperor's reign from May, while the support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has risen 9.5 percentage points to 52.8 percent, a Kyodo News survey showed Tuesday.

In the two-day nationwide emergency opinion poll conducted after the new imperial era name was unveiled Monday, 73.7 percent said they liked the name, which the government interprets as "beautiful harmony," while 15.7 percent did not.


Among the respondents who liked Reiwa, 35.6 percent said it suits the "new age" and 35.5 percent liked how it sounds. Among those who did not like the name, 42.1 percent they did not like the Chinese characters of which it is composed and 38.0 percent said they did not like how it sounds.

Asked whether they would prefer to use the new gengo or the Gregorian calendar on a daily basis and at work, 45.1 percent said they want to use both, 34.0 percent chose the Gregorian calendar and 18.8 percent preferred the gengo era calendar.


The survey covered 745 randomly selected households with eligible voters as well as 1,232 mobile phone numbers, obtaining responses from 521 and 519 people, respectively.

Indeed, it's interesting that PM Abe seemingly decided to leave his fingerprints on the name of an era which will hopefully endure for many years after his last term in office [...]

Your comment is quite apt! :flowers:

Amid Reiwa excitement, critics call out Abe gov't for appropriating new era name - The Mainichi
It has now been 11 days since Japan's next era name "Reiwa" was unveiled, and the ensuing hubbub has come down a notch. [...]


"It has to be said that the Abe administration used the era name announcement to buoy its own popularity," says Satoshi Shirai, a political scientist at Kyoto Seika University. [...] a Kyodo News poll conducted after the Reiwa unveiling showed voter support for the Abe Cabinet had risen almost 10 points from the previous month.

However, Abe's April 1 press conference left Shirai feeling deeply uneasy, particularly the moment when the prime minister was asked what kind of country he wanted to create in the next era, and Abe replied, "A society in which 100 million people actively participate."

"Until now, new eras were meant to be a brand-new start. They were defined by the Japanese people, and when they were over, people would look back and say, 'That was a such-and-such kind of time," comments Shirai. "But this time, the Abe administration has tied the new era name to its own 'society in which 100 million people actively participate' slogan. That didn't happen when the (current) Heisei era name was announced.

[...] "But it is arrogant for the administration to bind the next era to its own specific policy goals. It has been made clear that Abe not only treats the state, but also the next era name, as if they belong to him personally."

Sociologist and Tokyo Institute of Technology associate professor Ryosuke Nishida observes, "The prime minister's office made skilled use of Instagram's functions and other tools to boost the people's expectations for the next era, putting them in an 'at last it's here' mood. It was a clever piece of political theater."

The prime minister's office posted notices on Facebook and Twitter that the revealing of the new era name "will be live-streamed on April 1," and, "The announcement will be made at about 11:30 a.m." The PM's office also used Instagram's countdown function to show how much time was left before the announcement event.

On a lighter note, figure skating's biennial World Team Trophy competition is currently happening and Team Japan held up "Heisei" 平成 and "Reiwa" 令和 signs in the kiss and cry area! :lol:

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