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Japanese literature expert Susumu Nakanishi may have proposed new era name

Susumu Nakanishi, professor emeritus in Japanese literature at Osaka Women's University, is seen during an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, in Kyoto's Nishikyo Ward, on April 10, 2018. (Mainichi/Ai Kawahira)

TOKYO -- Susumu Nakanishi, professor emeritus in Japanese literature at Osaka Women's University, may have come up with the new era name of Reiwa.

Those commissioned by the government to think about the new era name are believed to include Nakanishi, 89, as well as Tadahisa Ishikawa, 86, former president of Nishogakusha University specializing in Chinese literature, and On Ikeda, 87, University of Tokyo professor emeritus of Chinese history.

Since the new era name of Reiwa is derived from the "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), the oldest anthology of Japanese waka poetry, there is a possibility that Nakanishi, an expert in Japanese literature, proposed Reiwa as a candidate for the new era name.

A native of Tokyo, Nakanishi studied under University of Tokyo professor emeritus Senichi Hisamatsu, an expert in "Manyoshu," who died in 1976. Nakanishi won the Japan Academy Prize in 1970 for his research into "Manyoshu." He is well versed in not only Japanese classics -- such as "Records of Ancient Matters," compiled in 712, "The Chronicles of Japan," finished in 720, and "The Tale of Genji," written in the early 11th century -- but also Chinese literature. He won the Order of Culture in 2013.

Ishikawa, an expert in Chinese poetry, serves as head of Shibunkai, a research organization on Chinese classics. Ikeda served as leader of the Institute of Eastern Culture from 2005 to 2009. He is an authority on research into ancient documents found in the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, Gansu province, China.

The government had unofficially asked Nakanishi and others to come up with candidates for the next era name and collected their proposals. It subsequently sent official documents, asking those concerned to propose candidate era names, on March 14 by mail. Era name candidates proposed by the three men were apparently presented at a gathering of experts and a meeting of all Cabinet members on the issue, on the morning of April 1.


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