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Release of docs on previous era name change delayed at least 5 yrs from original plan

The National Archives of Japan is seen in this file photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Dec. 24, 2018. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- The government has decided to postpone the transfer of records on how the present era name of Heisei was chosen to the National Archives of Japan by five years to the end of March 2024.

The documents are likely to be publicly released in April 2024 or later because official documents transferred to the archives are disclosed in principle.

The Cabinet Office made the decision on March 20 in an apparent effort to avoid impacting the selection process for the next era name.

"Since a series of ceremonies for the enthronement of the new emperor will be held, various work to select the next era name will be performed," an official of the Cabinet Office said.

The Heisei era will come to an end on April 30 when Emperor Akihito abdicates the throne, and a new era will commence with the ascension of his son Crown Prince Naruhito the following day. The next era name has yet to be announced.

The Cabinet Office reported its latest decision on the postponement to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in accordance with the Public Records and Archives Management Act enforcement order.

The Public Records and Archives Management Act and its enforcement order require the government to transfer historically important official documents to the National Archives, and in principle release them one to 30 years after compilation or acquisition.

However, administrative organs can extend the retention period after reporting the reason and extension period to the prime minister, if this is needed for their official duties.

The retention period can be extended yet another time. However, as there are opinions within the government that the documents in question can be disclosed unless their release has any impact on the process of changing the era name, the documents will likely be transferred to the National Archives within several years.

(Japanese original by Takenori Noguchi, Political News Department)

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