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Abe decides to announce new era name on April 1: gov't

This file photo shows the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo. (Mainichi/Kimitaka Takeichi)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to have the Cabinet approve and announce the name of the new era to follow the current Heisei era on April 1, one month before the new Emperor ascends to the throne on May 1, individuals close to the government said on Jan. 1.

Japan uses the Imperial era system in addition to the Western calendar, and one era name is used for each period the emperor remains on the throne.

The announcement of the new era name and the signing of a Cabinet order by the current Emperor before the Imperial succession on May 1 have been opposed by conservative members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Those members say that the Cabinet order to change the era should be signed by the new Emperor.

Abe decided to announce the era name in advance, however, as government officials had leaned toward such a move in light of the impact the era name change is expected to have on people's daily lives. The change will require revisions in various spheres, including changes to computer programs and documents used by public offices. The premier will make his decision public at a New Year's press conference on Jan. 4.

The government had earlier mulled announcing the new era name in April and having the new Emperor sign a Cabinet order concerning the new era name on May 1.

(Japanese original by Yu Takayama, Political News Department)

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