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34% prefer use of era name to Western calendar -- half of 1989 level

TOKYO -- About one-third of respondents in a recent Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll said they mainly use the Imperial era name to describe the year, a figure around half the 64 percent recorded 30 years ago.

Japan uses the Imperial era name system along with the Western calendar, and choses one era name for each Emperor. A new name will be announced on April 1, one month before Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds Emperor Akihito and ascends to the Imperial throne.

A total of 34 percent of respondents said they mainly use the era name, matching the percentage of respondents who said they use both the era name and the Western calendar. Another 25 percent said they mainly depend on the Western system.

In March 1989, shortly after the current era name of Heisei was introduced, 64 percent of respondents to a Mainichi survey answered that they would mainly use Heisei. Only 10 percent picked the Western calendar, while 24 percent responded that they would use both systems.

These numbers cannot be directly compared, as the survey methods differ -- the 1989 poll was conducted in face-to-face interviews while the latest Feb. 2-3 survey was done over the phone. Nevertheless, the difference in the two sets of results suggests that people are shifting away from the era name system.

Meanwhile, when asked about their impression of Heisei, 58 percent of respondents said they think it is positive, while 25 percent said it is negative.

The Mainichi poll earlier this month was carried out by random sampling, with 495 respondents answering on landlines and 528 on mobile phones.

(Japanese original by Takenori Noguchi, Political News Department)

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